I am committed to strengthening the Social Security system for generations to come, while fulfilling the promises made to current retirees and those nearing retirement. The question at hand is how to achieve this important goal. Several plans have been proposed, and as debate moves forward I will be joining my colleagues in an open and honest discussion as to which option best serves the American people. The one certainty is that the issue of Social Security reform needs to be addressed now. Every year this debate is delayed, the harder it becomes to reach a solution.
Creation of Social Security:
The Social Security system was created in the 1930s as a means of providing economic security to the elderly. The system was created to be a pay as you go method. Thus, today's workers, including Members of Congress, pay taxes that fund the benefits received by today's retirees. While this system worked well at that time, the economic situation has drastically changed since the 1930s. Seniors are healthier, living longer, and choosing to continue working. Specifically, in the next few years, there will be more people eligible to receive Social Security than there are workers supporting the system. Between 2010 and 2030, the number of people age 65 and older is projected to grow by 75% while the number of workers supporting the system is projected to grow by 6%.
We Must Take Action Now:
The danger of inaction is that by the year 2017, the Social Security system will be paying out more money than is coming into the system, and by 2041, the Social Security trust fund will be bankrupt. An additional $27 trillion in funding would then be needed to meet benefit obligations. That is an unacceptable burden to place on the next generation.
Strengthening the Program's Solvency:
We must begin by stopping the use of Social Security funds for anything other than Social Security, and beyond that, the options are numerous. I believe that whatever shape the final reform takes, it must include an option for younger workers to set aside a portion of their payroll tax in a personal savings account. Allowing workers to take responsibility for their own retirement creates a sense of ownership and reduces the dependence on government. Individual accounts would also prevent the government from using surplus Social Security revenues to "mask" public borrowing, or for other spending or tax reductions. Many different ideas have been proposed to address this issue. I look forward to working with my colleagues in the House of Representatives to find a full and permanent solution to the Social Security problem.