1994 - 1996 Advisory Council

Joint Statement of 

Shirley S. Chater, Commissioner of Social Security


Donna E. Shalala, Secretary of Health and Human Services on the Report of the Advisory Council on Social Security

"Today, we received the report of the Advisory Council on Social Security and transmitted their report to Congress as required by law. We thank the Council for their hard work.

After more than two years of deliberations, the Council was unable to reach a consensus. Instead, they have presented us and the Congress with three widely-differing sets of recommendations.

Recommending changes to America's most popular and successful government program, one that affects 44 million current recipients and 145 million future beneficiaries, is no easy task. For more than 60 years, Social Security has meant economic security and peace of mind to generations of Americans. It reduces poverty among the elderly and helps to keep families together -- providing invaluable financial support to those who have lost a family breadwinner to disability or death.

Let there be no doubt: Social Security will be there for generations to come. We have every confidence that Social Security's financial balance can and will be restored -- just as it was in 1983 after the deliberations of the National Commission on Social Security Reform.

As both the Advisory Council and Social Security's own actuary have reported, Social Security's revenues and trust fund reserves will permit the payment of full benefits for more than thirty years -- until 2029. After 2029, tax revenues would continue to support 77 percent of the expected benefits. This means we have time to make prudent and careful decisions.

But we should not delay. We as a nation should address this challenge in the near term. The sooner we agree upon those changes that are necessary, the less difficult those changes will be and the more time Americans will have to adapt to the reforms and adjust their personal financing plans accordingly.

We need to make decisions about Social Security's future through a thoughtful and deliberative process with the American people. Clearly, it must involve the Congress and be bipartisan. We recognize that the best way to address the long term challenges facing the program in a way that reflects our values is through a bipartisan framework.

The President is committed to restoring financial balance in a way that protects Social Security's core values and keeps faith with the principles that have served Social Security as a public trust for over 60 years, that:

  • Social Security must continue to provide a secure retirement, not only for today's retirees, but for future generations;
  • Social Security must continue its historic mission as our nation's premier social insurance program to protect all mericans and their families against disability, death, and the risk of poverty in their retirement years; and that
  • Social Security's financing must be sound.

We all want a Social Security system that will be as strong and reliable for our children and grandchildren as it has been for our parents and grandparents. To achieve this, we all need to work together, in a bipartisan fashion, to choose the course that is best for Social Security and best for all Americans."