Last week Senator Mitt Romney (R-Utah) submitted his proposal to tackle our nation’s suffering social contract programs for inclusion in the HEALS Act, the second stimulus package authored by Congressional Republicans.
Romney’s legislation, called the Time to Rescue United States’ Trusts Act ( or TRUST Act, S.2733), was introduced in late 2019 and has gathered 13 bipartisan cosponsors.
The bill seeks to immediately establish a Congressional rescue committee for each “critical social contract program” named in the legislation. This includes Social Security, Social Security disability, Medicare, and the Highway Trust Fund. The committees would include at least two members from each political party.
Once established, the Treasury would have 30 days to submit a report to Congress on the financial status of the funds in question. Each committee would then begin developing plans to repair each program. These plans would be considered if they increased the positive balances of the program and they extended the solvency of the program over a 75-year period.
Given the shadow the pandemic recession has cast over Social Security’s long-term financial outlook, Romney asserts our next stimulus bill must take the future of our nation’s trusts into account. His strategy with this bill is to mandate “a process” for achieving meaningful bipartisan fixes for these individual programs rather than immediate fight over a specific legislative plan.
Once a plan is submitted by these committees to Congress, they would need 60 votes to pass the Senate.
While we applaud Senator Romney for drawing attention to the recession’s impact on Social Security and the Trust Fund’s need for immediate legislative attention, the proposal has drawn fire from groups like AARP and Social Security Works.
AARP has called for the bill to be dropped completely, calling it an inappropriate and predatory attempt to involve Social Security and Medicare funding in an “unrelated”crisis relief bill. Social Security Works President Nancy Altman has echoed this sentiment, specifically drawing attention to Romney’s repeated mention of rising deficits.
“Those deficits that are spiking because of the pandemic are not related to Social Security,” Altman stated.
The primary criticism of Romney’s process-based strategy is Americans and Social Security advocates don’t know what the end product of these committees would be. There is considerable apprehension these closed-door committees could negotiate over Social Security benefit cuts.
Both of these organizations have alternatively come out in support of the 2100 Act, legislation that proposes a direct overhaul of the Social Security Trust Fund rather than a procedure to begin those talks.