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Reed Opening Statement at Hearing on Protecting and Improving Social Security: Enhancing Social Security to Strengthen the Middle Class

March 12, 2019

WASHINGTON, D.C. –  The top Republican on the House Ways and Means Social Security Subcommittee Tom Reed (R-NY) delivered the following opening statement at a Subcommittee Hearing on Protecting and Improving Social Security: Enhancing Social Security to Strengthen the Middle Class.

Before the start of today’s hearing, Rep. Reed and Rep. Kevin Brady (R-TX), the top Republican on the Committee, sent a letter to Ways and Means Committee Chairman Richard Neal (D-MA) and Social Security Subcommittee Chairman John Larson (D-CT).  CLICK HERE to read the full letter.

CLICK HERE to watch the hearing.

Remarks as prepared for delivery:

“Thank you, Mr. Chairman for holding this hearing today on a topic we can all agree on – strengthening and protecting Social Security.  This is an important topic to all Americans, and more helpful to the average American than efforts by many on the other side of the aisle to rush to impeach the President. 

“Today, I want to tell you the story of Betty.

“At age 14, Betty was diagnosed with rheumatic fever and told she would not live a long life and would never have children.

“But she grew strong and healthy and married a decorated WWII veteran and career military officer who received the Silver Star medal after being wounded saving the lives of his platoon pinned down by Nazi machine gun fire – with only his sidearm pistol.

“Together, Betty and her husband, Thomas, had 12 beautiful and healthy children.

“But tragedy struck when Thomas was only 48 – he died when their youngest child was just two years old – leaving Betty to raise all 12 kids on her own.

“How did Betty have the confidence that she would not have to raise her children on the streets?

“Social Security.

“But that was just a piece of the puzzle.

“She also relied on her husband’s military retirement, and life insurance death benefit.

“Betty worked with what she had to put food on the table, a roof over her children’s head and clothes on their back.  Using a part of the life insurance proceeds she bought a neighborhood house she could rent out to generate extra monthly income – because she recognized the Social Security check was not going to be enough to provide the quality of life she wanted for her children.

“To further provide for her family, she went to work in the local vineyards and babysat for many families in the area.  I believe relying on under the table cash payments for day wages because she could not afford to pay the taxes on the income or lose those benefits.  

“She also brought her youngest son along with her to work – because that was the only form of daycare she could afford.

“That youngest son was me – Tom Reed.  Betty Barr Reed was my mother.

“And like my family, many Americans rely on earned Social Security benefits when a family member reaches retirement age, faces a work limiting disability, or passes away.

“As we sit here today – it is without a doubt as the Republican Leader of Social Security I care deeply about ensuring Social Security is here today.  Here tomorrow.  And here for generations to come.

“And I guarantee my fellow Republicans on this Subcommittee are also committed to Social Security and ensuring the program is solvent for every generation.  The difference however with the majority is we can secure these benefits without tax increases. 

“Our principles in this mission are simple: long-term economic growth by encouraging work, not penalizing it; equal treatment for public servants; acting now to defend those future generation’s benefits; and protecting the most vulnerable people through focused reforms.  

“Mr. Chairman, you might have noticed our principles spell out the acronym ‘LEAP.’  That’s because Republicans want to LEAP with you on a bipartisan basis so we can all make sure Americans can count on Social Security to be there for them, for their children and their many grandchildren to come.

“And as we know from history, successful Social Security reform only has a fair chance to succeed if it is done on a bipartisan basis.  And we cannot wait until the brink of the crisis as Congress did in 1983 to act because the abyss will be too deep at that point to overcome.  The time to act is now.

“So Mr. Chairman, let’s LEAP together today to answer this historic call for leadership in a town often lacking such courage even when so clearly needed.  We do this so all Americans will have the peace of mind knowing they can count on Social Security to provide the security it did for that little girl, who became my idol and greatest inspiration, Betty Barr Reed.”