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Reed Opening Statement at Subcommittee Hearing on Comprehensive Legislative Proposals to Enhance Social Security

April 10, 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 Comprehensive Legislative Proposals to Enhance Social Security.

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 Chairman Larson for holding this hearing today.  I’m happy to join you to discuss proposals to improve Social Security’s benefits to reflect today’s people and the families we care about.

“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. 

“At our last hearing I shared my personal story of being raised on Social Security. 

“I’m the youngest of 12 and my mom, Betty Barr Reed, raised me and my 11 older siblings on her own with a Social Security check and military death benefits after my father passed away when I was two.

“My personal experience taught me the importance of Social Security and why it is critical we protect this program.

“Not just for today’s beneficiaries of Social Security.

“But for our future beneficiaries as well.

“When I was a law school student, I aspired to work with those less fortunate and in need of legal services.  My father was a career military veteran and even though he died when I was two, I learned from his legacy of service.  I wanted to do my part to give back.

“However, my dreams quickly faded when I graduated with over one hundred thousand dollars in student loan debt.

“That debt was crushing to me and my wife Jean.

“That debt limited our career choices and forced us to rethink all our decisions: when to start our family, where to live, and what path to pursue professionally.

“My wife, Jean, worked many jobs and waited tables while I studied for the bar and applied for jobs at Blockbuster.  For the millennials in the audience – that was my generation’s version of Netflix.

“To say we struggled to get through those early years right out of college would be an understatement.

“I can’t imagine having an additional increased tax burden, a smaller net paycheck — as included in your proposal — on top of all the debt Jean and I were already working so hard to pay off. 

“And Mr. Chairman, as you know the issue of exorbitant student loan debt is not improving.  It is getting worse with each passing year as higher education fails to lower its costs to make college affordable.  As a result, future generations of leaders fall further and further behind. 

“Mr. Chairman,  I care about these young people – young people like my own children Autumn and Will.  Republicans care about these young people.   We want to ensure they experience an economy that rewards the value and dignity of a hard day’s work.

“That’s why we cut taxes for Americans across the board, giving young people an economy that works for them and gives them a fair shot at achieving the life of their dreams.

“As a proud Republican, I believe work provides dignity and opportunity.  Work is good for your bank account and good for your soul.  Work is not a dirty word.  We care about making sure young Americans are rewarded for their hard work, not penalized with a 20% increase in the payroll tax.

“As we will hear today raising payroll tax rates is not only bad for small business and our economy, but unfairly hurt young people.  It hurts the students struggling to pay for their rent and their next meal.  We want to empower the next generation with tools to save for their retirement in a way that works best for them.

“We need a Social Security plan that addresses the needs of Americans today and the needs of Americans down the road.

“That is why we cannot go down a path that would protect today’s beneficiaries on the backs of their grandchildren.

“Today’s retirees don’t want that.  Those just entering the workforce don’t want that.  And you can be sure, the Republicans on this Subcommittee don’t want that.

“As I’ve said before, the mission of the Republicans on this Subcommittee is to secure benefits without tax increases.  We want to LEAP with you in a bipartisan manner, so we can make sure all Americans can count on Social Security to be there for them, for their children and the many grandchildren to come.

 “LEAP represents the principles of the Republicans on this Subcommittee: long-term economic growth by rewarding work; equal treatment for public servants; acting now to protect future generations; and protects the most vulnerable people through focused reforms.

“This hearing and regular order are an important part of the process to develop a Social Security proposal that meets these principles and works for all Americans.  We are here to listen.

“So as we continue this conversation about Social Security and receive input from Americans from ALL walks of life.  We cannot forget about the next generation and the recent college graduates who are already drowning in student loan debt.  Only by listening first can we have a truly bipartisan comprehensive solution to Social Security and only after listening to all voices first will we present a plan that we hope you will consider in our deliberations to sincerely fix the long-term threat to the viability of Social Security.  

“In closing, we care about these young people.  We care about our present retirees.  We care about those about to retire.  Thus, in this endeavor we will fight at every turn to ensure they all have a fair opportunity to achieve their dreams and in particular live their retirement years in a prosperous secure manner.”