Issue Position: Social & Retirement Security

Issue Position

Date: Sept. 14, 2015

Social Security
As a member of the Ways and Means Subcommittee on Social Security, I am in a good position to address the shortcomings in the current Social Security system and ensure this program is solvent today and in the years to come.

Protecting Social Security

In 1945, there were 42 workers to support every one Social Security beneficiary. Today, that number is just over 3 workers for each beneficiary, and when younger workers retire, there will only be 2 workers per recipient. In 2018, the government will begin to pay out more in Social Security benefits than it takes in revenue - and shortfalls then will grow larger with each passing year.

Social Security is funded with payroll taxes taken out of our paychecks. Yet, under the current system, payroll taxes will only be enough to pay for 73 percent of benefits as of 2042. In other words, without reforming Social Security, benefits will eventually have to be cut by 27 percent. The cash shortfall will continue growing thereafter, requiring steeper tax increases and larger benefit cuts over time, or the Social Security payroll tax will have to be raised from 12 percent to 18 percent just to ensure others receive their scheduled benefits.

The facts are grim. The system will go bankrupt if nothing is done.

In order to protect Social Security for future generations, we must pursue an aggressive reform agenda. I strongly oppose legislation, however, that would cut benefits to those already retired or those nearing retirement. In order for the grandchildren of those now retired to not be saddled with a huge tax burden or have their benefits drastically cut, we need to pass responsible reform.

Ensuring Fair Treatment for Texas Teachers, Firefighters, Police Officers and Public Servants

Today, about 887,000 firefighters, police officers, teachers and other public servants earn both a Social Security benefit and a Social Security substitute -- such as a state public pension -- where workers do not contribute to Social Security. When they retire, their Social Security worker benefit is determined using an arbitrary formula called the Windfall Elimination Provision (WEP), which may reduce their Social Security checks by up to $413 a month. WEP's one-size-fits all approach does not adjust benefits fairly for all workers.

That is why I, along with my colleague Richard Neal (D-MA), have introduced H.R. 711, the Equal Treatment for Public Servants Act. It repeals the 1980's era WEP which impacts 1.3 million public servants and instead bases Social Security on real life earnings and work history. Our bill strengthens the solvency of Social Security while guaranteeing our public servants receive the full benefits they earned when paying into the program. Those who teach our children and protect and serve us everyday deserve equal treatment when they retire. Social Security benefits should be based on your real-life contributions, not some arbitrary formula.