Lawmakers Should Replace WEP/GPO, Not Repeal It

The House Ways and Means Committee reported H.R. 82, a bill that repeals the Social Security Windfall Elimination Provision (WEP) and Government Pension Offset (GPO), out of committee without recommendation. Members of the committee signaled interest in making improvements to the bill to prevent it from hurting Social Security solvency, and passing without recommendation means there is no requirement for a vote on the House floor. According to the Congressional Budget Office, the bill would cost $183 billion over the next decade and lead Social Security to become insolvent sooner. We’ve pointed out additional concerns as well.

The following is a statement from Maya MacGuineas, president of the Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget:

Millions of Americans depend on Social Security. It is projected to become insolvent in 2035. Lawmakers have failed to act for the many years they have known about this problem, and now as a result participants don’t know to what extent they can count on the program. This is unconscionable and reflective of the failure of our politicians to address the most pressing problems.

Instead of coming up with a fix for Social Security, some lawmakers want to repeal the WEP and GPO provisions that prevent overpayments to some state and local workers – a proposal that would actually make things worse. The WEP and GPO provisions aren’t perfect, but repealing them without a replacement would cost $183 billion, make Social Security less fair, and advance insolvency even sooner than projected.

Social Security experts across the ideological spectrum agree that full WEP and GPO repeal would be misguided – including those from the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities on the left and Mercatus Center on the right. WEP and GPO should instead be replaced with a new, fairer formula, as has been proposed by lawmakers and experts in both parties.

Repealing the WEP and GPO without a replacement makes little sense in good times and is an especially bad idea in the current period of high inflation, high debt, and dwindling trust fund balances.

It is encouraging that lawmakers have signaled their support for making changes to this bill to ensure it doesn’t hurt Social Security solvency. Replacing WEP and GPO with a more accurate benefit adjustment that pays Social Security benefits proportionally based on a beneficiary’s time paying into the program would actually save the program money and improve solvency.

Policymakers should be focused on tax and benefit policies that will extend solvency, improve fairness, and promote economic growth. We only have a few years left to avoid insolvency and prevent a devastating across-the-board benefit cut.


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