Wes Hickman (202-224-5972) or Kevin Bishop (864-250-1417)
– By a vote of 100-0, the U.S. Senate today passed an amendment to the budget resolution sponsored by U.S. Senator Lindsey Graham (R-South Carolina) which details the problems facing Social Security.
“The unanimous vote by the Senate today mirrors President Bush’s description of the problems facing Social Security and in that regard is a significant step forward,” said Graham, a member of the Senate Budget Committee. “In a unanimous vote, the Senate is now on the record in agreement that Social Security is facing major structural problems. If they are not addressed, it will result in massive tax increases or benefit cuts for younger Americans.”
“My hope is that by commonly defining the problem, it will lead to common ground in terms of solutions,” continued Graham.
The amendment lays out the priorities for the Senate when it comes to discussing Social Security reform. The Senate agrees that:
- The President, Congress, and the American people including seniors, workers, women, minorities, and disabled persons should work together at the earliest opportunity to enact legislation to achieve a solvent and permanently sustainable Social Security system.
- Social Security reform must protect current and near retirees from any changes to Social Security benefits, reduce the pressure on future taxpayers and other budgetary priorities, provide benefit levels that adequately reflect individual contributions to the Social Security system, and preserve and strengthen the safety net for vulnerable populations including the disabled and survivors.
According to the nonpartisan Office of Chief Actuary of the Social Security Administration the number of workers paying taxes to support each Social Security beneficiary has dropped from 16.5 in 1950 to 3.3 in 2002. Within a generation, there will only be 2 workers to support each retiree.
Without structural reform, in 2018 Social Security will being paying out more in benefits than it collects in taxes and the Social Security trust fund will be exhausted in 2042 and only able to pay 73 percent of promised benefits.
The resolution also notes Social Security is the foundation of retirement for most Americans and strengthening the system is a national priority. Without structural reform, future Congresses may have to raise payroll taxes 50 percent over the next 75 years to pay full benefits on time or lower Social Security benefit levels.
“I firmly believe today was a move forward in the debate over how to save Social Security,” said Graham. “One hundred Senators came together to define the problem facing Social Security in real and honest terms, clearly demonstrating that doing nothing leads to massive taxes increases and/or benefit cuts for young Americans.
“Reaching an agreement on the true nature of the problem facing younger Americans should allow for a more thoughtful and constructive debate over how to solve what we now have unanimously defined as a ticking time bomb.”