The top Republican on the House Ways and Means Committee Kevin Brady (R-TX) delivered the following opening statement at a Full Committee Hearing on Improving Retirement Security For America’s Workers.
Before the start of today’s hearing, Rep. Brady, the top Republican on the Ways and Means Select Revenue Measures Subcommittee Adrian Smith (R-NE), and the top Republican on the Ways and Means Social Security Subcommittee Tom Reed (R-NY) sent a letter to Ways and Means Chairman Richard Neal (D-MA). CLICK HERE to read the full letter.
CLICK HERE to watch the hearing.
Remarks as prepared for delivery:
“Thank you, Chairman Neal, for calling this hearing today, which comes at an excellent time.
“Thanks to the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act and our growing economy, families and local businesses have more money in their pockets from lower taxes and higher paychecks.
“Economic expansion, job growth, and increased wages – the highest wage gains in nearly 11 years – are key factors in improving Americans’ retirement security.
“America’s strong and growing economy – along with President Trump’s renewed call for bipartisanship at last night’s State of the Union – pave the perfect path for us to work together to help families save more and earlier throughout their lives.
“We almost romanticize retirement in this country, and for good reason.
“As George Washington quoted from the Old Testament in his farewell address, all of us long to one day sit under our own vine and fig tree.
“All Americans deserve a secure retirement – and they expect Congress to work together to find solutions.
“Which is why, with bipartisan support just six months ago in this Committee and in the House, we twice passed real reforms to help Americans save for education, retirement, new babies, and for key life events.
“Our legislation, the Family Savings Act and H.R. 88, opened access to new savings vehicles.
“Our reforms expanded 529 savings accounts, giving families the flexibility to use their education savings to pay for apprenticeship fees, cover the cost of home schooling, and help pay off student debt.
“It included new Universal Savings Accounts, offering a fully flexible savings tool that workers, especially young ones, can use for their individual needs.
“Additionally, our legislation helped families as they welcomed a new child into their home – whether it be by birth or adoption.
“Helping our families save more is just one part of the equation. We must also make it easier for our local businesses to offer retirement plans to their workers.
“Many families have work-sponsored IRAs and 401(k)s – these are incredibly popular savings tools.
“Let’s make these tools even more user friendly and flexible for our Main Street businesses and their workers – such as allowing small businesses to band together to offer their workers these plans, as well as removing age limits for contributions to IRAs.
“These are smart solutions that can make an enormous impact for millions of workers.
“Finally, we all came to Congress to take on big challenges, to make things better for workers and their families.
“It’s time to put the security back in Social Security. This is a crucial anti-poverty program for the elderly and disabled that has succeeded, but is on shaky financial ground. We must work together to save it.
“Not once in Social Security’s nearly 100-year history have major changes been made to the program’s solvency that didn’t have Republican and Democrat support in the House.
“Going it alone, forcing one-party solutions, will certainly fail.
“Regrettably, in the past Democrats have shown little interest in bipartisan Social Security solutions. Today, we welcome your interest in that effort.
“If Democrats are finally serious about saving Social Security and addressing its demographic challenges, Ways and Means Republicans are eager to join in that conversation in order to find common ground. It’s long overdue.
“Any plan that Congress advances, in order to gain Republican support, needs to protect our most vulnerable, target help to those who need it most, must reward work, improve overall retirement security, and plan for the workers and families of tomorrow.
“And it should ensure its equal treatment of teachers, police officers, and firefighters.
“To protect seniors, it must be more than a bait-and-switch scheme that seizes more from every worker’s paycheck, overpromises benefits to seniors, and merely refills the Social Security Trust Fund for Congress to raid in the future.
“Americans have been down that road and deserve better. There are too few workers for our growing retirees, and we must successfully address that demographic challenge.
“It’s time to work together to save Social Security for every generation once and for all. Millions of workers are counting on us.
“I look forward to our discussion today so we can, this year, advance meaningful, bipartisan retirement-focused legislation.
“Thank you, Chairman Neal.”