NCPSSM sent a letter to Congress today urging representatives to reject the Fiscal Commission Act of 2023. This bill would establish a commission that would circumvent Congress’ regular order for considering Social Security and Medicare changes. The bill will be marked up in the House Budget Committee on January 18.

Commissions of this kind are intended to squeeze every possible dollar of savings out of Social Security and Medicare without consideration for the adequacy of benefits during their deliberations.  They are intended as a maneuver for enacting deep cuts to these critical programs that could never pass Congress through the normal legislative process because of their unpopularity with the voting public.

“A fiscal commission is designed to give individual members of Congress political cover for cutting Americans’ earned benefits. Any changes to Social Security and Medicare should go through regular order and not be relegated to a commission unaccountable to the public and rushed through the Congress.” – Max Richtman, president and CEO, National Committee to Preserve Social Security and Medicare 

This bill is designed to rush the Commission’s recommendations, which would inevitably prioritize deep cuts to Social Security and Medicare, through Congress so they can be enacted before the American people have a chance to study them and understand how they would be affected.  The bill’s goal of avoiding political accountability is made clear as H.R. 5779 prohibits the issuance of the Commission’s recommendations prior to election day and provides that the ensuing legislation would come to the floor during the lame-duck Congress. In this scenario, representatives who are leaving Congress at the end of the year could vote to cut American’s earned benefits — without having to face voters again.

NCPSSM believes that Social Security and Medicare should be reformed.  But the process must be deliberative and fully accessible to the public.  The committees with jurisdiction over Social Security and Medicare should hold hearings, develop legislation that improves – not cuts – benefits. The future of these critical programs must not and should not be determined as part of a budget cutting exercise.

Members of Congress should understand that fiscal commissions that force changes to Americans’ hard-earned benefits will – and should not – fool the voters. President Biden has rightly called such commissions “death panels” for Social Security and Medicare.  As NCPSSM’s president and CEO, Max Richtman, said, “The Fiscal Commission Act of 2023 should not have a mark-up, come to the floor for a vote, or, frankly, see the light of day.”