Report text available as:

(PDF provides a complete and accurate display of this text.) Tip?



106th Congress                                                   Report
                        HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES
 1st Session                                                     106-34
======================================================================


 
                  SOCIAL SECURITY GUARANTEE INITIATIVE
                                _______
                                

 March 1, 1999.--Committed to the Committee of the Whole House on the 
              State of the Union and ordered to be printed

                                _______
                                

    Mr. Archer, from the Committee on Ways and Means, submitted the 
                               following

                              R E P O R T

                             together with

                            ADDITIONAL VIEWS

                      [To accompany H.J. Res. 32]

      [Including cost estimate of the Congressional Budget Office]

  The Committee on Ways and Means, to whom was referred the 
joint resolution (H.J. Res. 32) expressing the sense of the 
Congress that the President and the Congress should join in 
undertaking the Social Security Guarantee Initiative to 
strengthen and protect the retirement income security of all 
Americans through the creation of a fair and modern Social 
Security Program for the 21st century, having considered the 
same, report favorably thereon with amendments and recommend 
that the joint resolution as amended do pass.

                                CONTENTS

                                                                   Page
 I. Introduction......................................................2
        A. Purpose and Summary...................................     2
        B. Background............................................     3
        C. Legislative History...................................     3
II. Explanation of the Joint Resolution...............................3
        A. Section 1. Short Title................................     3
        B. Section 2. Findings...................................     3
        C. Section 3. Sense of the Congress......................     4
III.Votes of the Committee............................................4

IV. Budget Effects of the Joint Resolution............................5
        A. Committee Estimate of Budgetary Effects...............     5
        B. Statement Regarding New Budget Authority and Tax 
            Expenditures.........................................     5
        C. Cost Estimate Prepared by the Congressional Budget 
            Office...............................................     6
 V. Other Matters Required To Be Discussed Under the Rules of the Hous6
        A. Committee Oversight Findings and Recommendations......     6
        B. Summary of Findings and Recommendations of the 
            Government and Oversight Committee...................     7
        C. Constitutional Authority Statement....................     7
VI. Additional Views..................................................8

    The amendments are as follows:
    Strike out all after the resolving clause and insert in 
lieu thereof the following:

SECTION 1. SHORT TITLE.

  This joint resolution may be cited as the ``Social Security Guarantee 
Initiative''.

SEC. 2. FINDINGS.

  The Congress finds that--
          (1) the Social Security program provides benefits to 
        44,000,000 Americans, including more than 27,000,000 retirees, 
        5,000,000 people with disabilities, and 2,000,000 surviving 
        children, and is essential to the dignity and security of the 
        Nation's elderly, disabled, and their families;
          (2) the Social Security program's progressive benefit 
        structure is of particular importance to women, due to their 
        (A) longer life expectancies than men, making the Social 
        Security program's lifetime, inflation-adjusted benefits a 
        critical income support especially for widows; (B) lower 
        average earnings; and (C) lower pension and other retirement 
        savings, stemming in part from their lower incomes and their 
        spending an average of 11 years out of the paid workforce 
        caring for families;
          (3) the approaching retirement of the Baby Boom Generation 
        will result in the Social Security program's benefit costs 
        exceeding its tax revenues beginning in 2013;
          (4) the Social Security program faces looming insolvency and 
        instability in the next century so that by 2032 the Social 
        Security Trust Funds will be fully depleted and the program 
        will be able to honor less than 75 percent of benefit 
        commitments; and
          (5) prompt action is necessary to restore Americans' 
        confidence that their retirement benefits will be protected.

SEC. 3. SENSE OF THE CONGRESS.

  The President and the Congress should join in strengthening the 
Social Security program and protecting the retirement income security 
of all Americans for the 21st century in a manner that--
          (1) ensures equal treatment across generations to all 
        Americans, especially minorities and other low-income workers;
          (2) recognizes the unique obstacles that women face in 
        ensuring retirement, disability, and survivor security and the 
        essential role that the Social Security program plays in 
        protecting financial stability for women;
          (3) provides a continuous benefit safety net for workers, 
        their survivors, their dependents, and individuals with 
        disabilities;
          (4) protects guaranteed lifetime benefits, including cost-of-
        living adjustments that fully index for inflation, for current 
        and future retirees; and
          (5) does not increase taxes.

  Amend the title so as to read:

      Joint resolution expressing the sense of the Congress 
that the President and the Congress should join in undertaking 
the Social Security Guarantee Initiative to strengthen the 
Social Security program and protect the retirement income 
security of all Americans for the 21st century-

                            I. Introduction


                         A. PURPOSE AND SUMMARY

    House Joint Resolution 32, the ``Social Security Guarantee 
Initiative,'' expresses the sense of the Congress that the 
President and the Congress should join in strengthening the 
Social Security program and protecting the retirement income 
security of all Americans for the 21st century in a manner 
that: (1) Ensures equal treatment across generations to all 
Americans, especially minorities and low-income workers; (2) 
Recognizes the unique obstacles that women face in ensuring 
retirement, disability and survivor security and the essential 
role that Social Security plays in protecting financial 
stability for women; (3) Provides a continuous benefit safety 
net for workers, their survivors, their dependents, and 
individuals with disabilities; (4) Protects guaranteed lifetime 
benefits, including cost-of-living adjustments that fully index 
for inflation, for current and future retirees; and (5) Does 
not increase taxes.

                             B. BACKGROUND

    Despite its success in alleviating poverty and boosting the 
incomes of millions of workers and families affected by 
retirement, death, and disability, America's Social Security 
program faces a funding crisis due to long-term demographic 
changes. The 1998 Social Security Trustees' report notes that 
program spending will exceed tax revenues in 2013; by 2032, the 
Trust Funds will be exhausted and Social Security income will 
be sufficient to meet less than 75 percent of program 
obligations.
    In anticipation of these challenges, the President proposed 
a reform ``framework'' as part of his fiscal year 2000 budget 
and several reform proposals have been introduced in Congress. 
Although proposals often differ on specific reform proposals, 
all seek to extend the life of the Social Security program and 
reinforce its benefit pledges for current and future retirees.

                         C. LEGISLATIVE HISTORY

    H.J. Res. 32 was introduced on February 23, 1999, by 
Representative Ryan (R, WI) and was referred to the Committee 
on Ways and Means. On February 24, 1999, the Committee ordered 
House Joint Resolution 32, as amended, favorably reported to 
the House by a recorded vote of 32 yeas, 0 nays.

                     II. Explanation of Provisions


Section 1. Short title

    This act may be cited as the ``Social Security Guarantee 
Initiative.''

Section 2. Findings

            Present law
    No provision.
            Explanation of the resolution
    The joint resolution, as approved by the Committee on Ways 
and Means, makes a series of findings pertaining to the 
importance of the Social Security program to millions of 
American families, the significance of the program's 
progressive benefits structure especially for women, the costs 
of the impending retirement of the Baby Boom generation, the 
program's looming insolvency, and the need for swift action to 
restore Americans' confidence that their retirement benefits 
will be protected.
            Reason for committee action
    The joint resolution makes clear the importance of the 
Social Security program for millions of American families, and 
thus the need to maintain the program for current and future 
generations.

Section 3. Sense of the Congress

            Present law
    No provision.
            Explanation of the resolution
    The joint resolution states that the President and the 
Congress should join in strengthening the Social Security 
program and protecting the retirement income security of all 
Americans for the 21st century in a manner that: (1) Ensures 
equal treatment across generations to all Americans, especially 
minorities and low-income workers; (2) Recognizes the unique 
obstacles that women face in ensuring retirement, disability 
and survivor security and the essential role that Social 
Security plays in protecting financial stability for women; (3) 
Provides a continuous benefit safety net for workers, their 
survivors, their dependents, and individuals with disabilities; 
(4) Protects guaranteed lifetime benefits, including cost-of-
living adjustments that fully index for inflation, for current 
and future retirees; and (5) Does not increase taxes.
            Reason for committee action
    The joint resolution expresses that the Congress and the 
President should work together to strengthen Social Security 
and protect the retirement income security of all Americans in 
accord with key program principles and without raising taxes.

                      III. VOTES OF THE COMMITTEE

    In compliance with clause 3(b) of rule XIII of the Rules of 
the House of Representatives, the following statements are made 
concerning the votes of the Committee on Ways and Means in its 
consideration of the resolution, H.J. Res. 32:

                       MOTION TO REPORT THE BILL

    H.J. Res. 32 was ordered reported favorably with amendment 
to the House of Representatives by a rollcall vote of 32 yeas 
to 0 nays (with a quorum present). The vote was as follows:

----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
        Representatives             Yea       Nay     Present    Representatives      Yea       Nay     Present
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Mr. Archer.....................        X   ........  .........  Mr. Rangel.......        X   ........  .........
Mr. Crane......................        X   ........  .........  Mr. Stark........  ........  ........  .........
Mr. Thomas.....................  ........  ........  .........  Mr. Matsui.......        X   ........  .........
Mr. Shaw.......................        X   ........  .........  Mr. Coyne........        X   ........  .........
Mrs. Johnson...................        X   ........  .........  Mr. Levin........        X   ........  .........
Mr. Houghton...................        X   ........  .........  Mr. Cardin.......        X   ........  .........
Mr. Herger.....................  ........  ........  .........  Mr. McDermott....  ........  ........  .........
Mr. McCrery....................        X   ........  .........  Mr. Kleczka......        X   ........  .........
Mr. Camp.......................        X   ........  .........  Mr. Lewis (GA)...  ........  ........  .........
Mr. Ramstad....................        X   ........  .........  Mr. Neal.........        X   ........  .........
Mr. Nussle.....................        X   ........  .........  Mr. McNulty......        X   ........  .........
Mr. Johnson....................        X   ........  .........  Mr. Jefferson....  ........  ........  .........
Ms. Dunn.......................        X   ........  .........  Mr. Tanner.......        X   ........  .........
Mr. Collins....................        X   ........  .........  Mr. Becerra......        X   ........  .........
Mr. Portman....................        X   ........  .........  Mrs. Thurman.....        X   ........  .........
Mr. English....................        X   ........  .........  Mr. Doggett......        X   ........  .........
Mr. Watkins....................        X   ........  .........
Mr. Hayworth...................        X   ........  .........
Mr. Weller.....................        X   ........  .........
Mr. Hulshof....................        X   ........  .........
Mr. McInnis....................  ........  ........  .........
Mr. Lewis (KY).................        X   ........  .........
Mr. Foley......................        X   ........  .........
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

                           VOTE ON AMENDMENT

    A rollcall vote was conducted on the following amendment to 
the Chairman's amendment in the nature of a substitute.
    An amendment by Mr. Rangel to add a new paragraph in 
section 3, before paragraph 1, that would add language to save 
Social Security first, ahead of any legislative initiatives 
that consume a portion of budget supluses, was defeated by a 
rollcall vote of 12 yeas to 21 nays. The vote was as follows:

----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
        Representatives             Yea       Nay     Present    Representatives      Yea       Nay     Present
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Mr. Archer.....................  ........        X   .........  Mr. Rangel.......        X   ........  .........
Mr. Crane......................  ........        X   .........  Mr. Stark........  ........  ........  .........
Mr. Thomas.....................  ........  ........  .........  Mr. Matsui.......        X   ........  .........
Mr. Shaw.......................  ........        X   .........  Mr. Coyne........        X   ........  .........
Mrs. Johnson...................  ........        X   .........  Mr. Levin........        X   ........  .........
Mr. Houghton...................  ........        X   .........  Mr. Cardin.......        X   ........  .........
Mr. Herger.....................  ........        X   .........  Mr. McDermott....  ........  ........  .........
Mr. McCrery....................  ........        X   .........  Mr. Kleczka......        X   ........  .........
Mr. Camp.......................  ........        X   .........  Mr. Lewis (GA)...  ........  ........  .........
Mr. Ramstad....................  ........        X   .........  Mr. Neal.........        X   ........  .........
Mr. Nussle.....................  ........        X   .........  Mr. McNulty......        X   ........  .........
Mr. Johnson....................  ........        X   .........  Mr. Jefferson....  ........  ........  .........
Ms. Dunn.......................  ........        X   .........  Mr. Tanner.......        X   ........  .........
Mr. Collins....................  ........        X   .........  Mr. Becerra......        X   ........  .........
Mr. Portman....................  ........        X   .........  Mrs. Thurman.....        X   ........  .........
Mr. English....................  ........        X   .........  Mr. Doggett......        X   ........  .........
Mr. Watkins....................  ........        X   .........
Mr. Hayworth...................  ........        X   .........
Mr. Weller.....................  ........        X   .........
Mr. Hulshof....................  ........        X   .........
Mr. McInnis....................  ........  ........  .........
Mr. Lewis (KY).................  ........        X   .........
Mr. Foley......................  ........        X   .........
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

               IV. Budget Effects of the Joint Resolution


               A. COMMITTEE ESTIMATE OF BUDGETARY EFFECTS

    In compliance with clause 3(d)(2) of rule XIII of the Rules 
of the House of Representatives, the following statement is 
made:
    The Committee agrees with the estimate prepared by the 
Congressional Budget Office (CBO) which is included below.

    B. STATEMENT REGARDING NEW BUDGET AUTHORITY AND TAX EXPENDITURES

    In compliance with clause 3(c)(2) of rule XIII of the Rules 
of the House of Representatives, the Committee states the H.J.
Res. 32 results in no net decrease in budget authority for 
direct spending programs relative to current law, and no new or 
increase due to tax expenditures.

      C. COST ESTIMATE PREPARED BY THE CONGRESSIONAL BUDGET OFFICE

    In compliance with clause 3(c)(3) of rule XIII of the House 
of Representatives requiring a cost estimate prepared by the 
Congressional Budget Office, the following report prepared by 
CBO is provided:

                                     U.S. Congress,
                               Congressional Budget Office,
                                     Washington, DC, March 1, 1999.
Hon. Bill Archer,
Chairman, Committee on Ways and Means,
House of Representatives, Washington, DC.
    Dear Mr. Chairman: The Congressional Budget Office has 
prepared the enclosed cost estimate for H.J. Res. 32, the 
Social Security Guarantee Initiative.
    If you wish further details on this estimate, we will be 
pleased to provide them. The CBO staff contact is Kathy 
Ruffing.
            Sincerely,
                                          Barry B. Anderson
                                    (For Dan L. Crippen, Director).
    Enclosure.

H.J. Res. 32--Social Security Guarantee Initiative

    H.J. Res. 32 would express the sense of the Congress that 
the President and the Congress should work together to reform 
the Social Security system in a way that averts insolvency, 
ensures the adequacy of benefits, assures equitable treatment 
for different generations, and does not increase taxes. The 
resolution would not authorize or appropriate any new spending 
or alter tax law. Therefore, CBO estimates that passages of 
H.J. Res. 32 would have no budgetary effect, and pay-as-you-go 
procedures would not apply.
    H.J. Res. 32 contains no intergovernmental or private-
sector mandates as defined by the Unfunded Mandates Reform Act 
and would not affect the budgets of state, local, or tribal 
governments.
    The CBO staff contact is Kathy A. Ruffing. This estimate 
was approved by Robert A. Sunshine, Deputy Assistant Director 
for Budget Analysis.

 V. Other Matters Required To Be Discussed Under the Rules of the House


          A. COMMITTEE OVERSIGHT FINDINGS AND RECOMMENDATIONS

    In compliance with clause 3(c)(1) of rule XIII of the Rules 
of the House of Representatives, the Committee reports that the 
need for this legislation was confirmed through its ongoing 
oversight of the Social Security Administration and the Social 
Security programs.

B. SUMMARY OF FINDINGS AND RECOMMENDATIONS OF THE GOVERNMENT REFORM AND 
                          OVERSIGHT COMMITTEE

    In compliance with clause 3(c)(4) of rule XIII of the Rules 
of the House of Representatives, the Committee states that no 
oversight findings and recommendations have been submitted to 
this Committee by the Committee on Government Reform and 
Oversight with respect to the provisions contained in this 
joint resolution.

                 C. CONSTITUTIONAL AUTHORITY STATEMENT

    With respect to clause 3(d)(1) of rule XIII of the Rules of 
the House of Representatives, relating to Constitutional 
Authority, the Committee states that the Committee's action in 
reporting the joint resolution is derived from Article I of the 
Constitution, Section 8 (``The Congress shall have the power to 
lay and collect taxes, duties, imposts and excises to pay the 
debts and to provide for * * * the general welfare of the 
United States * * *'').

                          VI. ADDITIONAL VIEWS

    The economic prosperity brought on by the tough choices 
made by the Congress in 1993 presents us with an historic 
opportunity. The budget surplus offers us the chance to leave 
the next generation free of public debt while restoring the 
solvency of the Social Security Trust Fund. We should seize the 
moment and fix the roof while the sun is shining.
    The President has offered us a proposal which will reduce 
publicly-held debt and shore up the Social Security Trust Fund 
into the middle of the 21st Century. The President would set 
aside 62% of the projected budget surplus for Social Security. 
He would set aside another 15% of the surplus for Medicare. 
This would draw down the publicly-held debt and reduce interest 
payments on the debt to the lowest level since World War I. 
This would enhance economic growth so that we can keep our 
Social Security promises to future generations.
    To date the Republicans have offered no solution which will 
restore Social Security solvency. H.J. Res. 32 is merely a 
``resolution'' not a solution. In contrast, the President has 
laid a plan on the table which will produce a virtuous cycle of 
reduced public debt and reduced interest payments. This will 
keep the economy growing, and it will enable us to provide for 
the retirement of the baby boom generation by strengthening 
Social Security.
    Democrats want to put aside the budget surplus not only to 
strengthen America's retirement security, but also to reduce 
the national debt and reduce the billions of dollars wasted on 
interest payments on that debt. We currently spend nearly as 
much on interest payments as on national defense.
    The Democrats want to use the surplus to reduce interest 
payments both for the government and for individuals. A 
virtuous cycle of debt reduction will bring down interest rates 
for average Americans, including home mortgage rates and car 
loan payments.
    Saving the surplus is the best way to deliver continued 
prosperity for hardworking, middle-class families. By reducing 
the public debt, the President's plan will increase national 
savings and produce sustained economic growth. Federal Reserve 
Board Chairman, Alan Greenspan, has said, ``The President's 
approach to Social Security reform supports a large unified 
budget surplus. This is a major step in the right direction in 
that it would ensure that the current rise in government's 
positive contribution to national savings is sustained.''
    During the markup of H.J. Res. 32, Democrats offered an 
amendment--which all 21 of the Ways and Means Republicans 
present voted against--which would have made it clear that the 
Congress was committed to making Social Security its first 
priority. Democrats had a simple request of the Republicans--
that they agree that Social Security should be saved first, 
ahead of legislative initiatives (for example, tax cuts) that 
consume a portion of budget surpluses. Unless we make Social 
Security our first priority, we may never reach the goal of 
H.J. Res. 32--a strong Social Security program that protects 
the retirement income security of all Americans into the 21st 
Century.
    The Social Security program is the most beloved and 
successful program in U.S. history. It has removed millions of 
Americans from poverty. Without Social Security, half of 
America's elderly would live in poverty. Social Security has 
provided all Americans with a sense of security that, if they 
are disabled, widowed or elderly, they will not be left 
destitute.
    We do not need to create a ``new'' Social Security program 
that really isn't Social Security. We need to strengthen the 
one that we already have. That is why Democrats offered 
successful amendments to H.J. Res. 32 to demonstrate our clear 
intention to strengthen Social Security, rather than to replace 
it with a new system.
    When Americans are asked what they want to use the surplus 
for, they respond in overwhelming numbers that they want to use 
it to strengthen Social Security. Young and old Americans have 
made it clear that they do not want to dismantle or restructure 
the current system and replace it with something else. They 
want a guaranteed Social Security benefit that lasts as long as 
they live.
    Democrats offered a successful amendments to assure that 
benefits were guaranteed for both current and future 
generations, rather than just for current beneficiaries and 
those nearing retirement. All Americans, including young 
people, deserve to know that Social Security is going to be 
there for them. American workers, young and old alike, deserve 
to know that, once they reach retirement, Social Security and 
its lifelong, guaranteed, inflation-protected benefits will be 
there for them, just as those same benefits are there for 
today's retirees.
    Democrats also offered a successful amendment to make it 
clear that those current and future retirees should receive 
guaranteed lifetime benefits, including cost-of-living 
adjustments that fully index for inflation. Retirees over the 
age of 80--most of whom are women--are among the most 
economically vulnerable Americans. Without a full cost-of-
living adjustment, the very old would fall further and further 
behind other Americans in their standard of living.
    It is not in the interest of either Democrats or 
Republicans to have another ``do-nothing'' Congress. The only 
way that we will solve the challenges involved with Social 
Security and Medicare is to act in a bipartisan way. We need 
real solutions--not resolutions. Putting off action will not 
benefit anyone. We need to prove the cynics wrong and act now 
to secure the Social Security and Medicare programs for future 
generations.

                                   Robert T. Matsui.
                                   Michael R. McNulty.
                                   William J. Coyne.
                                   C.B. Rangel.
                                   Jim McDermott.
                                   Jerry Kleczka.
                                   Pete Starke.
                                   Lolyd Doggett.
                                   Ben Cardin.
                                   Wm. J. Jefferson.
                                   John Lewis.
                                   John Tanner.
                                   Richard E. Neal.
                                   Xavier Becerra.
                                   Karen L. Thurman.
                                   Sander Levin.