WASHINGTON, D.C. — As the U.S. House of Representatives Ways and Means Committee convenes a hearing targeting Social Security, U.S. Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-OH) – ranking member of the Senate Finance Committee’s Subcommittee on Social Security, Pensions and Family Policy – today reinforced his commitment to protect Social Security from harmful cuts and changes that would undermine the program for millions of beneficiaries.
“Republicans in both chambers are working to disassemble Social Security piece-by-piece – and disability insurance, which makes up one-third of all Social Security beneficiaries, is first on the chopping block,” said Brown. “Rejecting reallocation while spreading falsehoods about the program attempts to pit the needs of retirees and disabled beneficiaries against each other. We must put an end to these scare tactics and protect social insurance from unwelcome attacks.”
Today’s hearing follows a rule change in the House of Representatives last month that would prevent Congress from using a simple, commonplace procedure known as reallocation. Brown was the first senator to speak out in strong opposition to this rule. Brown also joined members of Senate Democratic leadership in a letter to Republican leadership urging them to abandon this partisan rule.
Reallocation is a simple procedure used by Congress to rebalance how Social Security payroll tax revenues are apportioned between the two trust funds - the equivalent of transferring money from a checking to a savings account. Reallocation is a commonsense, bipartisan policy that has been utilized by both parties 11 times since 1957. Congress passed the most recent reallocation in 1994. At that time, it was projected that reallocation would keep the trust fund solvent until 2016.
In July 2014, Brown attended a Senate Finance Committee hearing, entitled “Social Security: A Fresh Look at Workers’ Disability Insurance,” to examine SSDI and its importance to the entire Social Security system. That same month, Brown delivered a keynote speech on SSDI at the Center for American Progress (CAP) where he outlined future threats that Social Security faces from those who seek to privatize and cut the program. Brown warned how undermining SSDI represents an effort to siphon public support from the entire Social Security program and urged Social Security advocates to organize in order to prevent detractors from “dividing and conquering” the program.
With more than one-third of Social Security beneficiaries being non-retirees, SSDI needs to be protected now more than ever. SSDI is one of our nation’s most successful insurance programs and helps 8.9 million disabled workers and 1.9 million children.
Further, SSDI’s modest benefits are the sole source of income for one-in-three beneficiaries. Without SSDI, half of all beneficiaries would be below the poverty line.
In December 2014, Brown announced that he will reintroduce the Strengthening Social Security Act – championed by retired U.S. Sen. Tom Harkin (D-IA). The bill would extend the solvency of the Social Security Trust Fund, which nearly two in three Americans rely on for at least half of their income in old age.