(As prepared for delivery)
John, I want to thank you for holding this Subcommittee hearing, and for your tireless work on Social Security.
The Ways and Means Committee has been hard at work this Congress to ensure that Americans can retire with security and dignity. There’s no question about it: Social Security is the bedrock guarantee of retirement security in this country. For the 65 million Americans who receive benefits, Social Security is more than just a check in the mail. It is rock-solid security. It allows them to retire with dignity after a lifetime of hard work. Americans know they have contributed throughout their working years and can count on the benefits they have earned.
People often think of Social Security as retirement, but it is so much more than that. It provides essential disability and life insurance to younger Americans, and insures both workers and their families.
I want to emphasize that Social Security benefits are earned benefits, based on contributions that workers make with each and every paycheck. And that fundamental principle is what gives Social Security its strength, because everyone knows they have a shared stake in this program. And we do: each and every one of us has a stake in Social Security, because we’ve paid into it.
And so, when some on the other side of the aisle talk about “terminating” Social Security’s payroll contributions, they are threatening the very existence of this bedrock program. What’s more, deferring payroll contributions fails to help those most in need of support at this critical time in our nation’s history.
Instead, we urgently need to enact real relief that will help shore up the economic health of Americans in both the short- and long-term. We can make families’ lives easier by getting them another round of economic impact payments and making sure they automatically receive this benefit. And for unemployed workers, reinstating and extending the $600 federal emergency unemployment compensation will allow them to afford life’s most basic essentials, like food and housing. These and other proven policies don’t undermine Social Security and are in the Heroes Act, which the House passed more than four months ago.
Before I conclude, I want to comment on a related topic. In Massachusetts, and in a number of other states, we have a longstanding problem called the WEP. It affects police officers, firefighters, teachers, and other public servants – many of them on the front lines of COVID – who have paid into Social Security for part of their careers and into a separate state or local government pension plan for part of their careers. I continue to work hard to address this problem and provide some much-needed relief to these individuals.
Thank you again to my colleague, Chairman Larson, for his leadership on defending Social Security. We must come together to protect this essential program.
John, thank you again for calling this hearing.
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