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Chairman Johnson Opening Statement at Hearing on Social Security’s Solvency Challenge

July 14, 2017

WASHINGTON, D.C. – House Ways and Means Social Security Subcommittee Chairman Sam Johnson (R-TX) today delivered the following opening statement at a Subcommittee hearing entitled “Social Security’s Solvency Challenge: Status of the Social Security Trust Funds.”

CLICK HERE to watch today’s hearing.

Remarks as prepared for delivery:

“Good morning and welcome to today’s hearing on the status of Social Security’s Trust Funds.  

“We all know that Social Security provides important retirement and disability benefits that millions of Americans rely on. Yet as we will hear again today, Congress needs to act so that we can be sure those earned benefits will be there for our children and our grandchildren, just like they are for seniors and individuals with disabilities today.  

“Today we will hear from Social Security’s Chief Actuary about the findings in this year’s report. While the report had some good news for the Disability Insurance program, make no mistake Social Security faces serious challenges. The Trustees Report tells us that the Social Security Trust Funds will be exhausted in 2034. At that point, individuals face across-the-board benefit cuts if Congress doesn’t act. Once the Trust Funds are exhausted, Social Security will only be able to pay 77 percent of promised benefits. That’s wrong and simply unacceptable.  

“The Trustees also tell us that today it would take $12.5 trillion to make Social Security solvent over the next 75 years. That’s not a little number. And that number gets bigger every year. In 2011, when I first held a hearing on the Trustees Report, it was $6.5 trillion.

“Fixing Social Security will require tough choices. Choices that will affect the lives of millions of Americans. I can tell you, these are not easy choices. And we all may have differing views on how to solve this. But not talking about this problem won’t make it go away. And if we wait until the Trust Funds are exhausted, the choices become even more difficult since some options will no longer be on the table.  

“Last December, I introduced my plan to fix Social Security. And my good friend from Connecticut, Mr. Larson, also has a plan. I appreciate my friend’s recognition that Social Security is in trouble and that we need to fix it. While our plans are very different, they both fix Social Security permanently.  

“I believe that any plan to fix Social Security should do so permanently. Social Security is too important to not give workers and their families that certainty. It’s not enough to just push out the Trust Fund exhaustion date by a few years. “When Congress acts, we need to be sure we’ve finally got Social Security on the right track, for good.  

“In addition to permanently fixing the program, I believe that any Social Security solvency plan should meet the following principles:  

  • FIRST, it should modernize Social Security to reflect today’s workers and their families;
  • SECOND, it should reward hard work;
  • THIRD, it should protect the most vulnerable; and
  • LASTLY, it should improve retirement security.

“Millions of Americans rely on this important program now and millions more pay in with the expectation of future benefits. Congress has a responsibility to the American people to make sure that our children and grandchildren can count on Social Security, just like seniors and individuals with disabilities do today. We must take this responsibility seriously.  

“And that’s why this Subcommittee will continue to talk about Social Security’s solvency and the cost of delay. Americans want, need, and deserve nothing less.”