Former Vice President and current 2020 Democratic primary front-runner Joe Biden joined his fellow candidates in calling for the expansion of Social Security.

“We should be increasing, not decreasing, Social Security,” Biden said recently at an AARP Iowa forum. “It’s within our capacity to do so.”

Biden’s campaign is calling for making Social Security financially sound. The program is expected to run a shortfall by 2035, when it will only be able to pay out about 80% of promised benefits, which his campaign also is calling for the prevention of any cuts to retirees receiving benefits.

Of course, to pay for the expansion, Biden wants to tax the wealthy and is “asking Americans with especially high wages to pay the same taxes on those earnings that middle-class families pay.” The specific tax hike rate was not included in the plan.

Biden’s plan also rejects calls for Social Security to be privatized or introduce means testing, where benefits would only be paid out to people below certain income and wealth levels. It also improves benefits for people in several ways, including increasing payments to people who have been receiving retirement benefits for 20 years with the idea of protecting older people whose savings might have depleted.

His plan also would set a minimum benefits level so all people who’ve paid into the system for at least 30 years would be guaranteed a benefit of at least 125% of the federal poverty level.

It also would increase benefits for widows and widowers by about 20% each month. Surviving spouses currently get 100% of a dead worker’s benefits as long as they are at full retirement age. Many people take those benefits before full retirement age, reducing their payouts.

“It sharpens the debate,” said Nancy Altman, the president of Social Security Works. “I don’t think you need the specifics until the Republicans are willing to say what they will do, or if they will do nothing and let the program remain with a shortfall.”

Biden is the top candidate for the Democratic primary with 33% of the voters, followed by Sens. Bernie Sanders with 18%, Elizabeth Warren with 14% and Kamala Harris at 13%, according to the latest Morning Consult poll. The latest polling results are based on 17,285 interviews between July 15-21.

Joe Biden

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