October 30, 2019
On behalf of the millions of members and supporters of the National Committee to Preserve Social Security and Medicare, I am writing to urge you and your colleagues on the House Committee on Ways and Means to approve H.R. 860, the Social Security 2100 Act before the Thanksgiving recess. The longer we wait, the harder the choices will be to address benefit adequacy and avoid an automatic 20-25 percent benefit cut in 2035.
Due to decades of persistently stagnant middle-class wages and the loss of pensions, more Americans rely on Social Security for all or most of their income in retirement. This situation is unlikely to improve since middle-class income is expected to remain flat according to a Kaiser Family Foundation estimate of future beneficiary per capita income. We support the Social Security 2100 Act because it will prevent millions of workers who live paycheck-to-paycheck from living a poverty-plagued retirement.
H.R. 860 will also provide peace of mind to young people who are concerned about Social Security not being there for them when they retire. The bill puts this fear to rest by strengthening key benefit provisions and restoring the program’s actuarial foundations.
While our members support all benefit improvements in H.R. 860, a fairer cost-of-living adjustment (COLA) is at the top of their list. Sadly, the current Consumer Price Index (CPI) has fallen far short of providing needed inflation protection because it fails to adequately measure the spending patterns of seniors, who spend more on health care costs than other Americans. Seniors received no COLA in 2010, 2011 and 2016. After years of low and no COLAs and skyrocketing health care costs, they are frustrated that nothing has been done to fix this problem. That’s why seniors strongly support the CPI for the Elderly provision in the Social Security 2100 Act.
In addition, the American people support measures in H.R. 860 to put the program on sound financial footing for the next 75 years and beyond. In a 2017 National Committee poll, 79 percent supported paying for an increase in benefits by having wealthy Americans pay the same rate into Social Security as everyone else.
In 2014, the National Academy of Social Insurance (NASI) found that 77 percent of Americans, across party lines, agreed that it is critical to preserve Social Security for future generations even if it means increasing Social Security taxes paid by working Americans. In fact, the NASI poll found that seven in ten respondents across generations and income levels supported a package of proposals that are nearly identical to H.R. 860.
The Social Security 2100 Act clearly represents the consensus of an overwhelming majority of Americans to close Social Security’s modest funding gap and improve Social Security benefits. It strikes the right balance between the overall financial needs of the program and the specific needs that still exist for strengthening the protections that Social Security provides. That’s why the National Committee urges you and other Ways and Means Committee members to pass this commonsense legislation before Congress recesses for Thanksgiving.
President and CEO