A four-hour hearing on retirement income security before the full House Ways and Means Committee broadly focused on options for making Social Security actuarially sound, expanding savings vehicles in the private sector retirement system, and rescuing the roughly 130 collectively bargained multiemployer pension plans that face impending insolvency. For retirees and their advocates, private sector retirement industry stakeholders, and policy experts across the ideological spectrum who fear retirement reforms may not be prioritized under divided government, the hearing was a strong start.
The hearing was marked by pledges for bipartisanship from both Democrats in the majority and Republican minority members. While the routine expressions of comity were a decided departure from the acrimony marking other policy debates on Capitol Hill, the hearing did reveal clear ideological divisions that have obstructed reform in the past, particularly with Social Security and previous proposals to rescue failing multiemployer plans.
Rep. Richard Neal, D-MA, Chair of the Ways and Means Committee, has already reintroduced legislation that would rescue failing multiemployer plans without enacting benefits cuts on retired union workers in the private sector. The Retirement Enhancement and Savings Act, a comprehensive retirement package designed to address the access gap to retirement plans in the private sector, was also reintroduced in the House. And Rep. John Larson, D-CT, chair of the Ways and Means Subcommittee on Social Security, reintroduced the Social Security 2100 Act.
Where the exhaustive hearing was long on data points across diverse issues, it was refreshingly short on demagoguery. For highlights from the discussion on Social Security reform, go to BenefitsPRO.