Neal Opening Statement at Markup of Social Security and Pension Legislation
(As prepared for delivery)
Mr. Chairman, thank you very much for holding today’s markup on two bills that will improve our public and private retirement systems.
The Social Security Online Tools Innovation Act is intended to help Social Security disability beneficiaries who are interested in trying to go back to work. The bill would direct the Social Security Administration to publish a calculator-tool on its website that would help beneficiaries understand how earnings would affect their Social Security benefit amount and eligibility.
The second bill, the Save Community Newspapers Act, would provide pension funding relief for a number of community newspaper plan sponsors. This bill provides these struggling employers with some wiggle room allowing them to contribute less money to their pension plans each year. And that means maintaining jobs and strengthening their businesses while at the same time maintaining their pension plans.
I am pleased to support both of these bills today and I thank the Chairman for bringing them up. However, it is imperative that we do much more to address our current retirement crisis than simply acting on these two bills.
Today our country is in the midst of a retirement crisis. Nearly half of American private sector employees – roughly 55 million – work for an employer that does not offer a retirement plan. Most of these workers are employed by small businesses, the fastest growing segment of the economy.
Too many workers in this nation reach retirement age without the savings they need. We must make saving easier and do more to encourage workers to begin saving for earlier.
I have a number of bills that would do just that. My Automatic Retirement Plan Act would provide a savings opportunity at work for approximately 30 million American workers. I’ve also introduced the Retirement Plan Simplification and Enhancement Act, which includes a number of common sense reforms to simplify and enhance our retirement rules.
A number of other members on this committee also have retirement bills that would help address the retirement crisis. For example, Ron Kind and Mike Kelly have introduced the RESA bill that would encourage middle class families to save. This bipartisan bill enjoys the support of both industry and AARP.
I’d also be remiss if I didn’t highlight the multiemployer pensions, which are in crisis. About 10 million Americans participate in multiemployer plans and about 1.5 million of them are in plans that are quickly running out of money.
These are American workers who planned for their retirement. People who year after year chose to contribute to their pensions instead of taking a wage increase.
Then after working for 30 plus years, their planned retirements may be taken away from them. And taken away at a time when they no longer have time to prepare for retirement because they’re now in retirement.
It is critical that we address this crisis and help these Americans whose retirements are now at risk by no fault of their own.
In conclusion, I am pleased that the Chairman has brought up these two bills today. However, this is just a grain of sand in the sea. We need to come together on a bipartisan basis to really address the retirement crisis. And I hope the Chairman will do just that.