Something refreshing happened in the U.S. Senate race. A candidate actually presented a thoughtful, detailed plan on how to solve an important problem facing the country.

Credit Democratic nominee Bob Kerrey for presenting a specific 10-point plan for reforming Social Security.

His contribution elevates the election debate. It gives voters something to ponder beyond the usual litany of attack ads that dominate politics in the modern super-PAC era.

As everyone should know, the Social Security program is unsustainable as it is currently structured. The program already is paying out more than is coming in. The discrepancy will only get worse in coming years.

“There is no way around the fact that if we do not reform (Social Security) soon, we will not be able to protect Americans under the age of 40,” Kerrey said. “They will suffer a substantial cut in their benefits or their children will suffer a substantial increase in their payroll taxes.”

Kerrey’s proposal calls for gradually increasing the eligibility age for full retirement, and gradually applying the Social Security payroll tax to wages above the current $106,800 cap.

In a better world, opponent Deb Fischer would have responded with some specifics of her own on how she would cope with the Social Security’s financial problems.

Instead, Nebraska voters were given another round of politics as usual, with Fischer claiming that Kerrey wanted to raise taxes on the middle class.

Fischer previously has indicated support for raising the eligibility age and requiring Social Security recipients to meet income guidelines. But the details are yet to come.

Admittedly, Fischer’s campaign is not totally devoid of unambiguous stands. For example, she has signed the Grover Norquist pledge not to raise taxes, and she says she supports a balanced budget amendment to the U.S. Constitution.

But when it comes to presenting voters with a clear, understandable plan for solving a national problem, one that allows voters to fully assess the impact of proposed changes, Kerrey has set a standard that more candidates should emulate.