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Support for TRUST Act Grows

Jan 7, 2020 | Social Security

The Time to Rescue United States Trusts Act, or the TRUST Act, was introduced last fall on a bipartisan basis in both chambers of Congress to establish a process for addressing the impending insolvency of the Social Security, Medicare, and Highway trust funds. The measure has garnered twelve sponsors or co-sponsors in the House and eleven in the Senate as well as the endorsement of the Blue Dog Coalition. Senators Mitt Romney (R-UT) and Joe Manchin (D-WV), alongside Representatives Mike Gallagher (R-WI) and Ed Case (D-HI), have led the effort.

The bill (S. 2733/H.R. 4907) would create a separate bipartisan commission for each major, endangered federal trust fund program, and any recommendations would receive a fast-tracked vote in Congress. It would apply to trust funds that spend more than $20 billion per year and are projected to be exhausted by 2035, resulting in deep and sudden cuts to beneficiaries and other activities. According to the Congressional Budget Office (CBO), the Highway Trust Fund will be depleted by 2022, Medicare Part A by 2026, Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) by 2028, and Social Security Old-Age and Survivors Insurance (OASI) by 2032 (the Social Security trustees estimate later dates for those two trust funds). Read more on the TRUST Act here.

Outside of Capitol Hill, support for the TRUST Act is growing. Below are some endorsements of the bill:

Maya MacGuineas, President, Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget - “Some of the federal government’s most important trust fund programs are headed toward insolvency. The TRUST Act offers renewed hope that we can address these imbalances before it is too late. Senators Romney and Manchin deserve great praise for taking on a challenge that far too many ignore, by proposing to establish a process to achieve bipartisan solutions. The commissions established under the TRUST Act would be charged with securing programs like Social Security, Medicare, and the highway fund so that they are stronger, more effective, and continue to be there for current and future generations. The bill wouldn't force policymakers to agree, but it would force them to try to work together. That goal should have unanimous support."

Alan Simpson and Erskine Bowles, co-chairs of the National Commission on Fiscal Responsibility and Reform - “It has been nine years since the Fiscal Commission we co-chaired released common sense comprehensive recommendations to fix the debt and to secure our major entitlement programs, those programs still remain in serious financial jeopardy. The Social Security, Medicare, and Highway Trust Funds are all predicted to be insolvent in the next 15 years, triggering deep across-the-board cuts in benefits. While most people in Washington would prefer to put – or leave! – their heads in the sand, the TRUST Act would create a truly bipartisan process to save these important programs. We know from personal experience that when Democrats, Republicans, and Independents honestly work together in good faith, they can identify real and lasting solutions: the Fiscal Commission recommendations were supported by 11 of 18 commissioners. We earnestly thank Senators Romney and Manchin, Representatives Gallagher and Case, and other co-sponsors for taking the lead on this important and vital effort. Time is running out to enact critical and thoughtful reforms to appropriately fund our infrastructure and return solvency to Social Security and Medicare.”

Robert L. Bixby, Executive Director of The Concord Coalition - “This proposal could prompt bipartisan action on key trust fund depletion dates that threaten indiscriminate across-the-board cuts to vital programs within the next 15 years. It is, in effect, a responsible call to repeal and replace the irresponsible Do Nothing Plan.”

Center Forward - “Center Forward is dedicated to bringing together thought and political leaders from across the political spectrum who are working together to address our nation's biggest challenges. At a time when government spending has continued to escalate at an astronomical rate, the sustainability of our most essential programs is being threatened. More than almost any other issue, the only way to fix this problem is for leaders on both sides of the aisle to come together.

Today, members of Congress in both parties have come together to put forward a bill, the TRUST Act, to help make many of these programs sustainable for the future. Without action by lawmakers, significant programs that rely on Trust Funds for financing like the highway fund, Medicare, and Social Security will run out of money within the next 15 years, resulting in abrupt across the board cuts that harm individuals, families, and businesses.

At a time when politics is all too often marked by extreme partisanship, this bill recognizes that the only kind of legislative action that is sustainable results from bipartisan policymaking. Particularly when it comes to some of our most cherished programs, workable solutions need to come from the center.”

Bipartisan Policy Center Action - “Our debt and deficit challenges have been ignored by our national leaders for far too long. It's good to see that some members of Congress still care about our country's fiscal future.”

Russ Latino, Vice President of Economic Opportunity, Americans for Prosperity - “The first step in any recovery is to admit there is a problem. The TRUST Act represents a good faith effort to start a long overdue conversation about how we secure America’s future for families, retirees and generations to come, as many of the programs Americans have come to rely on lurch toward financial insolvency. Tackling these problems will require political courage from leaders of all stripes. We’re hopeful that the TRUST Act will help refocus both parties on the gravity of this looming crisis and the need for solutions. Americans for Prosperity, and it’s network of activists across the country, look forward to being a part of this important conversation in the coming months.”

Ben Ritz, Director of the Progressive Policy Institute's Center for Funding America's Future - “The budget debate in Washington has hit an all-time low since President Trump took office, with Congressional Republicans passing a $2 trillion deficit-financed tax cut and some on the far left proposing tens of trillions of dollars in new spending without a plan to pay for it. The TRUST Act bucks this harmful trend and starts an important conversation about what tax increases and spending cuts will be needed to secure the future of Social Security and Medicare, as well as fund critical public investments in our nation's ageing infrastructure. Congress must strengthen these and other important programs for Americans of all ages.”

Kevin R. Kosar, Ph.D., Vice-President of Policy for R Street Institute - “Congress has long delayed facing this fiscal crisis. The TRUST Act is a bold and brave step toward solving the problem before it becomes a calamity for our nation.”

Bill Gale, Senior Fellow at the Brookings Institution - “The journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step. Addressing long-term federal budget shortfalls is going to take many bold actions by our political leaders and the problem is so big that it often seems unclear where even to start. Senators Romney, Manchin, Young, Jones, and Sinema, and Representatives Gallagher, Case, Timmons and McAdams have shown how Congress can take that first step and take it a long way in the right direction. Addressing the federal trust funds in a bipartisan manner is a promising way to make a down payment on long-term fiscal reform.”

Jason Pye, Vice President of Legislative Affairs for FreedomWorks - “Congress cannot continue kicking the can down the road. America's fiscal situation is unsustainable, and it is time to begin treating it with the seriousness it deserves. The TRUST Act is not a silver bullet, but it does take a necessary first step toward addressing the looming fiscal crisis that taxpayers face.”

As interest in the Trust Act builds, lawmakers should consider the benefits to individuals who rely on trust fund-supported programs as well as the benefits to the nation's overall fiscal outlook. The cost of waiting only increases when it comes to major program trust funds, and we hope to see action later this year.