Delaney and Cole Introduce Social Security Commission Bill

The bipartisan duo of Reps. John Delaney (D-MD) and Tom Cole (R-OK) have reprised a bill from last year to create a Social Security Commission. The bipartisan and bicameral commission would be required to come up with a plan to make Social Security solvent for 75 years.

The commission would involve 13 members, with 3 each appointed by the party leaders in the House and Senate and a Chair appointed by the President. It would have to report its recommendations within one year of its first meeting, and it would take 9 votes for the report to be sent to Congress. At that point, the legislation would get expedited consideration and an up-or-down vote in Congress.

Both Congressmen stressed the need to make changes to Social Security to avoid a large across-the-board cut in benefits when the program goes insolvent, currently projected to happen in 2033 according to the Social Security Trustees. Both also noted the need to move quickly, a smart move because the needed changes get larger the longer we wait.

The commission proposal is particularly timely because the Social Security Disability Insurance trust fund is less than two years away from insolvency. Since the aging problem that is hitting DI's finances is also affecting the old-age program, which will become insolvent in less than two decades, it would be wise to deal with both in comprehensive reform. CRFB's own Ed Lorenzen suggested a commission like this one would be helpful to attach to any short-term DI financing solution that takes place.

In addition to the release on the commission, Rep. Delaney separately released his principles for Social Security reform. He argued against privatizing the program and said that any change should give consideration to protecting the most vulnerable. Among the types of policies he recommends are:

  • Increasing the payroll tax cap
  • Enhancing benefits for those with low incomes and for the very old
  • Changing the inflation calculation to better reflect price changes
  • Giving benefit credits for caregivers
  • Ensuring same-sex couples can get spousal benefits

We applaud Reps. Delaney and Cole for putting the focus on ensuring the program's solvency. CRFB president Maya MacGuineas praised last year's bill as "a critical first step forward showing that both parties can work together towards fixing America’s most important social insurance program." The Fix the Debt Campaign said about last year's bill:

It can begin the critical process of educating the public and policymakers about the decisions we face and help the country reach a consensus on policies to make Social Security financially secure for future generations.

We hope the bill gets consideration in this Congress.