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Reed Opening Statement at Hearing on Protecting and Improving Social Security: Benefit Enhancements

March 13, 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: Benefit Enhancements.

CLICK HERE to watch the hearing.

Remarks as prepared for delivery:

“Thank you, Mr. Chairman.  I’m happy to join you again today to discuss how we improve Social Security’s benefits to reflect today’s workers and their families.  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. 

“Yesterday, I shared the story of my mother Betty.

“And stated the mission and principles of the Republicans on this Subcommittee when it comes to Social Security reform. 

“Because of their importance, we will state them again today. The mission of the Republicans on this Subcommittee is to secure benefits without tax increases.

“The principles are simple. They are known as ‘LEAP’: 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.

“One of our principles is very much at the heart of today’s hearing – protecting the most vulnerable people through focused reforms. 

“As we heard in the story of my mother, she was a worker who held many jobs.  And this is true for many people.  Just yesterday, I heard from a constituent who retired but still wanted to work part time after claiming his earned Social Security benefits.  However, this constituent hasn’t reached his full retirement age so that means those benefits are reduced if he earns too much.  That’s wrong and it doesn’t reward work or help seniors who are trying to transition into retirement. 

“As Mr. Biggs and others will testify, widows who have worked and earned their own Social Security benefits face a potentially devastating reduction in the household’s Social Security benefits upon the death of a spouse.  That also doesn’t reward work and it puts widows who have worked their entire lives at risk of poverty. 

“And Chairman Larson’s plan, former Chairman Johnson’s plan, as well as many others, seek to make sure that the long-career, low wage worker has a minimum benefit that actually means something.  Because that’s the right thing to do after years of hard work.

“These are just a few examples. As all our witnesses will share in their stories, Social Security doesn’t always work well for workers and their families today.

“That’s because much of the program we know today as Social Security was designed in the late 1930s.  A lot has changed since then – today more women are working, people start their families later, and, in some cases, they are living longer.

“It is time to take a hard look, figure out what is working and what is not, and then come together to find bipartisan solutions to address these problems. 

“But as we heard yesterday from Joseph, efforts to address Social Security’s solvency strictly by raising taxes would be devastating to our job creators.  Jobs are the cornerstone of Social Security.  You earn Social Security benefits as a result of work. We must never hurt job creation and wage growth.

“To do so would harm Social Security, not help it.

“Thanks to tax cuts, workers have more money in their pockets, companies are investing in their businesses, and as a result our economy is booming.  We should recognize this success and build off it to ensure those workers are rewarded for their hard work, not penalized.

“Mr. Chairman, we are earnest in our desire to work with you and look forward to hearing from our witnesses today.  I know we all came here to solve big problems and to help people.

“I can’t think of a more important problem to solve than Social Security solvency.  This will guarantee Americans can count on the program now and for generations to come. 

“And as I have learned first-hand from my mom, Betty, this is a mission we must achieve.”