Bipartisan bill would establish Social Security commission

Reps. John Delaney (D-Md.) and Tom Cole (R-Okla.) have introduced a bill to establish a commission to study how Social Security can achieve fiscal solvency.

The Congressional Budget Office has estimated that Social Security will be unable to pay full benefits by 2031. 

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Delaney argued that Congress should start reviewing how to maintain Social Security sooner rather than later.

"I’m troubled by the irrefutable data before us: that if we don’t adjust the funding and other aspects of Social Security now, we will either need large benefit cuts down the road or risk crowding out other priorities," Delaney said. 

The 13-member panel created under the legislation would include 12 appointees of congressional leadership, two of whom must be non-elected experts. A 13th member appointed by the president would chair the commission.

The commission would required to report to Congress on the state of Social Security for the 75 years and its recommendations within a year of the first meeting. At least nine members of the commission would have to sign onto the report.

Upon its approval by the commission, the report would then be guaranteed an up-or-down vote in the House and Senate.

Cole warned that Americans of all ages who currently contribute to Social Security through automatic payroll deductions may not see benefits if the issue is not addressed.

"Throughout the entirety of working life, that deduction shows up on a person’s paycheck with the promise of some sort of future benefit," Cole said. "Unfortunately, without immediate changes that modernize the current system, Social Security will not be able to follow through on that promise."

Congress has turned to various commissions over the years to study fiscal issues. But many of them, such as the 2010 panel chaired by former Sen. Alan Simpson (R-Wyo.) and former Clinton administration official Erskine Bowles, have produced results but found little traction on Capitol Hill. The Simpson-Bowles commission report was widely cited as a bipartisan proposal to reduce the deficit, but ultimately never got a supermajority vote needed to officially report it to Congress. 

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