Transcript: Labor Secretary Hilda Solis on the 2012 Social Security & Medicare trustees report
Transcript of remarks by Labor Secretary Hilda Solis on the 2012 Social Security & Medicare trustees report:
“Today we heard about the long-term financial future of Social Security and Medicare. These programs serve as a critical lifeline for millions of Americans, especially for those experiencing these tough economic times.
“Today, close to 54 million Americans receive Social Security benefits. That includes 38 million retirees, 10 million Americans with disabilities, and 6 million survivors of deceased workers.
“Social Security also serves a critical role in combatting poverty in this country. In fact, it’s estimated that if Social Security payments were excluded from income, the number of older people in poverty would increase by almost 14 million individuals.
“However, challenges remain for Social Security and Medicare and, thus, the retirement security of many Americans who depend on the benefits they provide.
“Secretaries Geithner and Sebelius have both stressed the importance of legislative actions to address these challenges.
“We know that costs for both programs are continuing to increase due to the continued retirement by the baby boom generation and lowered birth rates for younger generations. People are also living longer and the cost of health care per beneficiary has continued to rise, especially in private health insurance but also for our public programs.
“Reducing the long-term cost for Medicare will depend largely on the provisions of the Affordable Care Act, which will take effect in the coming years. That’s one big reason why ensuring the successful implementation of this historic health care law is so important.
“But there are other important steps that strengthen the solvency of the Social Security and Medicare trust funds.
“Critical to this effort is the continued and sustained economic recovery. In the past 25 months, the economy has generated 4 million jobs. Layoffs have decreased to 2006 levels, and the unemployment rate has decreased from a peak of 10% at the height of the recession to 8.2% today.
“We’ve made steady progress but we’re not out of the woods yet. We’ve got a lot more work to do to make every person in every community thriving again.
“Putting more people back to work now is more crucial to the health of the Social Security and Medicare trust fund. When more people are working, our payroll tax base grows and so does the trust funds as people are able to contribute to them.
“So we’re taking concrete steps to put people back on the job in a quicker and more effective way.
“The recent extension of the unemployment insurance and the important reforms that come along with it are critical to this effort. In providing more services and more flexibility, we’re turning the unemployment system into a re-employment system, making it easier and quicker for people to get back to work.
“Additionally, we’re funding job training initiatives that are focused on making sure that the skills workers gain in the classroom match what employers are looking for in the office or factory floor.
“In addition, over the past two years, we have worked strategically to incentivize businesses to put more people back to work. We also continue to support policies and encourage disabled and older workers to stay on the job.
“This effort also helps to address the solvency of the trust funds.
“Many disabled workers can and do want to work so we’ve got to help them do just that as quick as we can. We put forth a number of initiatives to speed up medical recovery, to get folks off disability insurance, and back on the job. Currently, we’re collaborating with the Social Security Administration to build on this important work.
“And over the last 3 years, the Department of Labor has helped 16 states provide disability insurance claimants with targeted job coaching and training to help them get back to work.
“Last year alone, the number of one-stop career centers engaging with participants of the SSA’s Ticket to Work program increased by 34%.
“Together, we’re helping those who can get back to work do so, and we’re making sure they keep part of their benefits so that they can get the help they need to transition back to work.
“Social Security and Medicare provide a safety net for millions of Americans, retired workers and beneficiaries – many of whom are low-income and depend on these programs for their very survival.
“We must act soon to address the immediate and long-term imbalances between income and costs of the programs. The earlier these reforms can be made, the more options and the more time we have to better prepare for those effected and to ease the burden on our most vulnerable communities. Thank you. ”
- CSpan.org: Video of press conference on Social Security and Medicare trustees report
- Social Security Administration: Reports from the Board of Trustees
- Social Security Administration: Summary of the 2012 reports for the Social Security and Medicare programs (PDF)
- WhatTheFolly.com: Transcript: Q&A on the 2012 Social Security & Medicare Trustees report
- WhatTheFolly.com: Transcript: Reischauer on the 2012 Social Security & Medicare trustees report
- WhatTheFolly.com: Transcript: Blahous on the 2012 Social Security & Medicare trustees report
- WhatTheFolly.com: Transcript: Social Security Commissioner Michael Astrue on the 2012 Social Security & Medicare trustees report
- WhatTheFolly.com: Transcript: HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius on the 2012 Social Security & Medicare trustees report
- WhatTheFolly.com: Transcript: Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner on the 2012 Social Security & Medicare trustees report
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