In testimony to the U.S. House Budget Committee today, National Committee to Preserve Social Security and Medicare president Max Richtman warned against the creation of a fiscal commission that would pose a threat to Americans’ earned benefits in the name of debt reduction. Here are some highlights from his testimony:::
“As Congress grapples with the implications of a federal debt currently topping $33 trillion, pressure by fiscal conservatives inevitably turns to finding ‘savings’ in Social Security, even though this critical social insurance program for America’s workers does not contribute a single penny to the national debt.
Finding ‘savings’ in Social Security is code for cutting the program, which poses significant political risks to elected officials who vote to slash the already modest, earned benefits of workers contributing to this extremely popular program. This is why the notion of creating a Commission to advance unpopular benefit cuts repeatedly resurfaces, in the hopes a bipartisan commission could help shield proponents of cutting the program from political accountability.
Commissions are designed to squeeze every possible dollar of savings out of Social Security without consideration for the adequacy of benefits during their deliberations. They are intended as a vehicle for enacting deep cuts to Social Security and Medicare that could never pass Congress on their own because of their unpopularity with the voting public.
The National Committee believes Social Security must be reformed, its benefits updated to meet the needs of today’s and tomorrow’s beneficiaries and its financial solvency assured for future generations. But the process to achieve that goal must be deliberative and fully accessible to the public. Commissions forcing changes to hard-earned benefits will not fool American voters. President Biden has called them ‘death panels’ for Social Security for good reason.” – Max Richtman, NCPSSM President & CEO, Congressional testimony, 10/19/23
Today’s hearing was held by House Budget Committee Chairman Jodey Arrington (R-TX) and Ranking Member Brendan Boyle (D-PA) to “examine the need for a bipartisan commission to address the pressing fiscal issues of our time.” The National Committee to Preserve Social Security and Medicare unequivocally opposes the creation of a fiscal commission, preferring that any changes to workers’ earned benefits go through the normal legislative process — known as “regular order” — where members of Congress are fully accountable to the public.