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Social Security Subcommittee Chairman Ferguson – Hearing on Social Security Fundamentals: A Fact-Based Foundation

April 26, 2023

As prepared for delivery.

“Good morning, the Subcommittee will come to order.

“It is my privilege as Chairman of the Social Security Subcommittee to welcome everyone to our first hearing in the 118th Congress.

“I’d like to thank Ranking Member Larson, Chairman Smith, and the Members of the Social Security Subcommittee for being here today. I’d also like to thank Mr. Smucker, Mr. Davis, and Mr. Panetta for joining as a guests of the Subcommittee. Thanks also to our panel for being here with us to share their expertise.

“I am excited to begin the work of the Subcommittee this Congress with today’s hearing on Social Security’s fundamentals because I firmly believe that establishing a foundation based on facts is a critical first step to finding a bipartisan path forward to save and strengthen Social Security. I intend for this Subcommittee to be a venue for real, open, and respectful dialogue about Social Security and I invite Ranking Member Larson and all the Members of this Subcommittee to join me.

“Social Security is vitally important to virtually every single American, from the over 65 million Americans who receive a monthly Social Security benefit, to the roughly 180 million taxpayers who contribute a portion of their paychecks to fund the program.

“We have a responsibility to protect this program for both current and future beneficiaries.

“But as you’ll hear from our expert panel today, Social Security’s finances have long been out of balance. After decades of running at a surplus that generated almost $3 trillion in reserves, for the first time since the 1980s, Social Security’s retirement program is within a decade of being unable to pay full benefits. While workers contributed more than $1.1 trillion of their hard-earned wages last year, the program costs were even larger, by about $40 billion. And that difference between income and expenses is only expected to grow.

“For the first time in decades, both the Social Security Trustees and the Congressional Budget Office project the retirement Trust Fund to be exhausted within ten years.

“This is a serious problem that deserves serious attention from this Subcommittee.

“As we will hear from witnesses today, major reforms to Social Security have only been accomplished on a bipartisan basis—from the creation of the retirement program in 1930s to the bipartisan reforms enacted during the Reagan administration 40 years ago this year.

“Social Security is a multi-generational program, which is why we need to address the needs of Americans today and the needs of Americans 10, 50, and 75 years from now.

“Today’s hearing will lay out the facts of the financial status of the Trust Funds—the first step in a process to address both the short- and long-term solvency of these critical programs. Social Security is too important to not work together—Americans expect and deserve bipartisan efforts to address Social Security and to ensure it works for today’s workers, seniors, and their families.”