Ribble Calls on Congress to End Budget Stalemate and Secure Social Security

Issues: Social Security

Social Security has served as a lifeline for our seniors for generations.  Unfortunately, given our nation’s demographics, this crucial safety net isn’t going to last another generation unless Congress steps forward and takes action.  Congress needs to pass legislation today that puts the program on solid ground for our children and grandchildren.

That is why I believe we should begin working now to secure Social Security for all generations.  I have compiled Democratic and Republican suggestions that have been widely discussed and evaluated.  Putting them together, however, provides Congress a path to ensure Social Security’s solvency for decades.  We should be able to come together as a Congress and a nation to address this problem before it becomes a crisis.  Republican President Ronald Reagan and Democratic House Speaker Tip O’Neill came together in an era of divided government to protect our seniors.  We should do the same now.  We’ve kicked the can for years, but we shouldn’t wait any longer to act.  Below is a compilation of the work I've done to help convince my colleagues that now is the time to secure Social Security.

Timeline of Events:

September 19th:
Ribble releases his plan to GOP House Colleagues

Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget blogs in support of Ribble's efforts.

Excerpt from their blog post:

"We can't help but agree with the Congressman when he argues that 'Acting now will show the American people once again that we are serious about protecting the most vulnerable in our communities, tackling our nation's problems in a responsible way, and getting our fiscal house in order. We should not delay.'"

September 20th:
The Campaign to Fix the Debt "Strongly Supports" Ribble's Efforts on Social Security

September 27th:
U.S. Chamber of Commerce releases letter of support for Ribble's call to secure Social Security

Congressman Ribble asked CBO Director about the need to address Social Security

Excerpt from Congressman Ribble's questions to CBO Director Elmendorf:

RIBBLE: It seems in the three years I've been here it keeps -- that window keeps getting shorter and shorter. Some would say we should wait till we get to 2031 and then address it, because Congress seems to react better to crises than fiscal management. Is it more expensive to address it then or more expensive to address it now? I mean, is there a cost to waiting?

ELMENDORF: There is certainly a cost to waiting, Congressman.

RIBBLE: In what regard?

ELMENDORF: So the longer one waits to make changes, the larger the changes need to be and the more abruptly they would need to take effect. For Social Security right now, the age for full retirement benefits is working its way up as part of an agreement the Congress and president reached in the early 1980s. And that agreement was to do various things including phasing an increase in retirement age over a long period. But, the longer one waits to address the imbalance of Social Security and the federal budget as a whole, the less time one would have to phase in any changes that you and your colleagues agreed to.

October 3rd:
Ribble published an op-ed in The Hill newspaper articulating why we should save Social Security before the program becomes insolvent and arguing why now is the best time to save this vital program.  Click on the here to read his op-ed.

Below are excerpts from the op-ed:

"With people’s faith in government hovering at rock bottom lows, Washington D.C. is in desperate need of a new paradigm. We can do better than this. We owe it to our children, our constituents, and ourselves to be better than this.  Our president and my colleagues on both sides of the aisle need to stop playing political small ball and aspire for something more meaningful.

Responsibly shoring up Social Security presents a viable, constructive path out of the debt limit debacle, preserves one of our most crucial safety nets, and gives the financial markets, credit rating agencies, and the American people a glimmer of hope that Washington D.C. isn’t two steps away from becoming a marble-adorned banana republic."

October 9th:
Ribble, along with 50 of his House GOP colleagues, sent a letter to Republican leadership illustrating their support for acting on Social Security as part of the current fiscal negotiations.  Below is a excerpt from the House GOP letter:

"Virtually everyone recognizes that our nation's entitlement programs are the primary, long-term drivers of our debt. Social Security provides us the best opportunity to begin solving our nation's significant budget imbalances in an era of divided government. By addressing this issue we can take a significant step toward preserving this crucial program and restoring the public's faith in this institution's ability to work for the American people."

Quotes from organizations who support shoring up Social Security's long-term finances:

“We’ve done caps on discretionary and defense. We’ve done revenues. But we haven’t done entitlements.”
- Maya MacGuineas, Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget (9/18/13)

"Lawmakers should address the financial challenges facing Social Security and Medicare as soon as possible," the trustees report said. "Taking action sooner rather than later will leave more options and more time available to phase in changes to that the public has adequate time to prepare."
- 2013 Social Security Trustees’ Report (5/31/13)

“Best chance for a budget deal is a deal on Social Security. Some on Hill are discussing this.”
– Jim Kessler, Senior VP for Policy, Third Way (9/18/13)

“Social Security’s long term finances must be stabilized to ensure that the program can be maintained as a safety net from poverty for those individuals who have contributed to the program during their working years.”
-Business Roundtable (1/16/13)

“It is going to take political courage on both sides to come together on fiscal common ground. The problem is real, the solutions are painful, and there is no easy way out. But there is room for a solution. We must find it for the sake of our grandchildren, ourselves, and our country.”
–Alan Simpson and Erskine Bowles (9/18/13)

“AARP believes that the current long-term shortfall should be addressed sooner rather than later so that the fundamental structure of the program can be retained, changes can be more modest, and the protections it offers to almost all workers and their families can be strengthened.”
- A. Barry Rand, CEO of AARP (2/14/13)

“On our current path, the oversized federal debt will continue to grow and annual deficits will soon begin to rise again…Yet a bipartisan chorus of elected officials in Washington is still shying away from dealing with the core problems: retirement and health care programs...”
- Concord Coalition (9/17/13)

“The latest CBO report has moved the Social Security insolvency date two years closer to 2031. Every year that we wait makes a solvency fix more politically difficult for Congress and more expensive for the middle class.” –Jim Kessler, Senior VP for Policy, Third Way (9/27/13)