Larson Opening Statement at Subcommittee Hearing on Protecting and Improving Social Security: Comprehensive Legislative Proposals to Enhance Social Security
(As prepared for delivery)
Good morning, and welcome to our witnesses and audience members.
Today is the third hearing in a series on protecting and improving Social Security, where we will be discussing comprehensive legislation to enhance Social Security.
The American people want solutions. They’re sick of partisan bickering and want to see something actually getting done.
That’s why this committee is holding these hearings. We’re shining a light on the options to enhance and expand Social Security, because doing nothing is not an option.
And I firmly believe that my colleagues do want to strengthen the program.
The President in his book, Time to Get Tough, even said: “It’s not unreasonable for people who paid into a system for decades to expect to get their money’s worth—that’s not an ‘entitlement’, that’s honoring a deal.”
Our hearings and polling have shown that Americans are remarkably in agreement on the changes they want to see in Social Security. They want to see it protected and enhanced, and they’re even willing to pay for it. So today we turn to legislation that would do exactly that.
Social Security represents the full faith and credit of the United States government. It’s never missed a payment and it will be there for future generations. I have a solution that will make sure of that.
The Social Security 2100 Act would expand and enhance Social Security, making the program financially stable through this century and beyond. Several of my colleagues have also introduced their own proposals to protect and enhance Social Security benefits – I welcome that and encourage us all to seriously consider such legislation.
Social Security is our nation’s bedrock retirement security program. It is essential to the middle class. Millions of Americans rely on it. A new GAO report shows that nearly 50 percent of American households 55 years old and up have no retirement savings.
After the Great Recession 10 years ago, many saw their retirement savings wiped out, and according to economists at the Federal Reserve on average, the bottom 90 percent of households have not regained the wealth they lost in the recession.
We have a retirement crisis and Americans are relying on Social Security as the floor to their retirement now more than ever. That’s why we need to act and move forward with the Social Security 2100 Act.
One of the reasons I’ve asked Steve Goss, the chief actuary for Social Security, to be here today is so everyone can understand the challenge we face in terms of Social Security’s financial status. He can also discuss what the solutions are. I want to note for the record that the actuary is strictly neutral. I asked him to spend a few minutes explaining the 2100 Act and sustainable solvency. But he has prepared actuarial analyses for many other bills and welcomes questions on all proposals.
The 2100 Act is the only solution that expands benefits, is fully paid for, and achieves sustainable solvency – keeping Social Security secure through the end of the century and beyond.
It offers current beneficiaries an across the board benefit increase of approximately $300 a year, and it changes the formula for the Cost-of-Living-Adjustments to reflect the costs that seniors face day to day.
It ensures that no one who has worked their whole life can retire into poverty, by creating a special minimum benefit of 125 percent above the poverty level. It also provides tax relief for almost 12 million Social Security beneficiaries.
This money goes straight back into the economy and helps seniors, widows, dependents, and people with disabilities live their lives.
This is a commonsense solution, that is fully paid for, that everyone should be able to get behind.
With that, I recognize the Republican leader, Tom Reed.