Two key senators want solvency in state trust funds ‘front burner again’
Two key senators want solvency in state trust funds ‘front burner again’

Two key senators want solvency in state trust funds ‘front burner again’

The stars may be in line – two key senators hope at least – when it comes to figuring out the economics of Social Security and Medicare.

Within the next 11 years, three of the government’s most important trust funds – Social Security, Medicare and the Highway Trust Fund – are expected to run out of the money needed to provide the full benefits. First up is Medicarewhich may run low in 2026.

Senator Mitt Romney (R-UT) as well as Angus King (I-ME) say the problem needs to be resolved now that it would be too late to wait for the money to run out and they are pushing a plan to establish “rescue” . commission ”to look at the programs.

“When COVID hit, everything stopped like, because we all focused on COVID … and so on TRUST Act became a backward topic. but it’s back to a burner again, “Romney said on Wednesday, adding that there is now a bipartisan group of at least 12 senators behind the idea.

“People are working on this, even if it is not a top political issue,” he added.

“I feel cautiously optimistic about this,” added King, an independent who maintains caucus with the Democrats, but quickly added that he “never bet on the timely outcome of the legislative process, but I think we’re in pretty good shape. with this.”

The comments came at an event held by the budget watchdogs at Committee on a Responsible Federal Budget. The group has helped push the issue for yearsand Maya MacGuineas, the group’s president, opened things up on Thursday by announcing that there are now “a number of policy makers who have really started to pay attention” and that inflation has made the problem even more urgent.

ONE US Treasury Department report from last fall found that the Social Security Fund without action is currently expected to pay out full benefits only until 2033, after Medicare runs low in 2026. Bipartisan infrastructure law helped the Highway Trust Fund a little, but only extended its solvency until 2027.

‘Rescue commissions’

In recent years, Romney has led the effort on a bill known as TRUST (Time to Rescue United States Trusts) Actwhich was first introduced in 2019.

Senator Mitt Romney (R-UT) during a congressional hearing in 2021. (REUTERS / Elizabeth Frantz)

The bill will set up commissions tasked with looking at each of the major funds. A host of moderate senators have supported the idea, including Sens. Joe Manchin (D-WV), Todd Young (R-IN) and Kyrsten Sinema (D-AZ).

If established, the commission would have a heated internal debate over the balance between raising more revenue, perhaps from the payroll taxes that fund Social Security and Medicare, or cutting back on benefits to future beneficiaries.

Sita Slavov of George Mason University was one of the panelists on Thursday, noting that lawmakers in such commissions would be faced with a series of “politically unpopular elections.”

So, if a Commission could reach a bipartisan agreement, the resulting bill would still have to gather 60 votes in the Senate and a majority in Parliament, even though it would have a “privileged path” to limit possible amendments and more quickly receive an up or down down voice.

Both Romney and King make an effort to emphasize that they just want to create the framework to make a plan. “I did not suggest what the solution was, just that we should work to find a solution,” Romney says of only developing the bill after he was elected to the Senate.

A ‘conspiracy to get social security’

But opposition to the idea runs deep among progressive Democrats on Capitol Hill.

The leader of a group called Social Security Works, in line with Bernie Sanders, has memorably written that it is a “conspiracy to get social security behind closed doors” and adds that the Democrats who support are “outliers in their party.”

WASHINGTON, DC - FEBRUARY 13: Sen.  Bernie Sanders (I-VT) speaks during a press conference to announce legislation to expand social security, on Capitol Hill on February 13, 2019 in Washington, DC.  Late.  Sanders proposal would contribute to social security with payroll tax on income over $ 250,000.  (Photo by Mark Wilson / Getty Images)

Late. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) during a press conference to announce legislation to expand social security in 2019. (Mark Wilson / Getty Images)

Many Democrats are instead pushing plans that would increase both benefits and taxes. A prominent plan is known as “Social Security 2100 “ and would strengthen social security by increasing payroll taxes on salaries above $ 400,000 and also gradually phasing in an increase in payroll taxes for all.

Former candidate Joe Biden repeatedly promised during the 2020 presidential campaign that he would not cut social security benefits if he won the White House, while Senator Sanders pressed his even more aggressive ideas to increase benefits and costs.

Romney revealed a bit of frustration Thursday over the opposition, saying that “a demagogue can always grab a microphone and say, ‘Oh, they want to cut back on your services'”, but repeatedly claimed that any plan would require bipartisan buy-in and that the ideas backed by Sanders would raise taxes sharply, and “That’s not where America is.”

Ben Werschkul is the author and producer of Yahoo Finance in Washington, DC.

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