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A Letter to Congress: Act Now to Ensure Public Confidence in Social Security and Medicare

Social Security and Medicare are critical social insurance programs upon which millions of American workers and retirees rely. Lately, however, these programs have lacked a key component of public oversight. Specifically, for the past four years, the Boards of Trustees that look after these important national programs have been without the two Public Trustees, leading to a record-breaking period in which these positions have been vacant.

The Boards of Trustees of the Social Security and Medicare Trust Funds provide crucial oversight of Social Security and Medicare. The 1983 Social Security Amendments introduced the Public Trustees to serve as independent voices on the Boards. Detached from partisan politics and the perspective of any particular administration, the two Public Trustees report on the status of the Trust Funds to Congress and the American people, helping to preserve public confidence in the financial management of Medicare and Social Security.

These positions have been vacant since 2015, violating the intent of federal law and depriving Congress and the public of key objective insights into the health of the Trust Funds. It is imperative that the vacancies are filled expeditiously to ensure the proper monitoring and safeguarding of the funds that help provide a secure financial foundation for millions of Americans. This is especially true at a time when both programs face significant long-range financing challenges.

We urge the United States Senate to act on the pending nominees as soon as possible to provide independent and bipartisan oversight of the programs’ finances.

Sincerely,

Henry J. Aaron
Member of the Social Security Advisory Board;
Bruce and Virginia MacLaury Senior Fellow, The Brookings Institution

Loren Adler
Associate Director
USC-Brookings Schaeffer Initiative for Health Policy

Shai Akabas
Director of Economic Policy
Bipartisan Policy Center

Barry Anderson
Former Congressional Budget Office Acting Director;
Office of Management and Budget Senior Career Official

Joseph R. Antos
Wilson H. Taylor Scholar in Health Care and Retirement Policy
American Enterprise Institute

William J. Arnone
Chief Executive Officer
National Academy of Social Insurance

Michael J. Astrue
Former Commissioner of the Social Security Administration

G. Lawrence Atkins
Research Director
Long-Term Quality Alliance

Todd Barth
President, Bowers Properties, Inc.;
Former Trustee of Teacher Retirement System of Texas

Jared Bernstein
Economist

Andrew Biggs
Resident Scholar
American Enterprise Institute

Jeff Bingaman
Former U.S. Senator (D-NM)

Robert L. Bixby
Executive Director
The Concord Coalition

Rudy Boschwitz
Former U.S. Senator (R-MN);
Former U.S. Ambassador to the UN Human Rights Commission

Barry Bosworth
Senior Fellow
The Brookings Institution

Erskine Bowles
Co-Chair
The National Commission on Fiscal Responsibility and Reform

Chantel Boyens
Principal Policy Associate
Urban Institute

Alex Brill
Resident Fellow
American Enterprise Institute

Jeffrey R. Brown
Dean, Gies College of Business
University of Illinois

Sheila Burke
Adjunct Lecturer in Public Policy
Harvard Kennedy School

Leonard Burman
Institute Fellow
Urban Institute

Stuart M. Butler
Senior Fellow
The Brookings Institution

James C. Capretta
Former Associate Director
Office of Management and Budget

Kent Conrad
Former U.S. Senator (D-ND)

Dan Crippen
Former Director, Congressional Budget Office;
Chairman, Social Security Technical Advisory Panel on Assumptions and Methods

Francis J. Crosson
Chairman
Medicare Payment Advisory Commission

Tom Daschle
Former U.S. Senate Majority Leader (D-SD)

James H. Douglas
Former Governor (R-VT)

David Dreier
Former U.S. Representative (R-CA)

Karen Dynan
Professor of Practice, Economics Department
Harvard University

Janice Eberly
Former Assistant Secretary of the Treasury for Economic Policy;
James R. and Helen D. Russell Professor of Finance, Kellogg School of Management,
Northwestern University

Doug Elmendorf
Former Director
Congressional Budget Office

Vic Fazio
Former U.S. Representative (D-CA)

Jason Fichtner
Fellow
Bipartisan Policy Center

Howard Fluhr
Chairman Emeritus
The Segal Group

Marty Ford
Senior Advisor
The Arc of the United States

Gail D. Fosler
President
The GailFosler Group LLC

Joel Friedman
Vice President for Federal Fiscal Policy
Center on Budget and Policy Priorities

Bill Frist
Former U.S. Senate Majority Leader (R-TN)

William G. Gale
Co-Director
Urban-Brookings Tax Policy Center

William A. Galston
Senior Fellow
The Brookings Institution

Teresa Ghilarducci
Bernard L. and Irene Schwartz Professor of Economics;
Director, Schwartz Center for Economic Policy Analysis,
The New School

Paul B. Ginsburg
Leonard D. Schaeffer Chair in Health Policy Studies
The Brookings Institution

Dan Glickman
Former U.S. Secretary of Agriculture and Representative (D-KS)

Jagadeesh Gokhale
Member of the Social Security Advisory Board;
Director of Special Projects,
Penn Wharton Budget Model

Marc Goldwein
Senior Vice President
Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget

Joshua Gotbaum
Guest Scholar, Economic Studies
The Brookings Institution

Gordon Gray
Director of Fiscal Policy
American Action Forum

Robert Greenstein
President
Center on Budget and Policy Priorities

Judd Gregg
Former U.S. Senator and Governor (R-NH)

Keith Hall
Former Director, Congressional Budget Office;
Professor of Practice, McCourt School of Public Policy,
Georgetown University

Seth Hanlon
Senior Fellow
Center for American Progress

Ron Haskins
Senior Fellow
The Brookings Institution

Kevin Hassett
Former Chair Council of Economic Advisers

James J. Hearn
Former Deputy Staff Director, Senate Budget Committee;
Fellow,
National Academy of Public Administration

C. Robert Henrikson
Former Chairman and CEO Metlife

G. William Hoagland
Senior Vice President
Bipartisan Policy Center

Douglas Holtz-Eakin
Former Director, Congressional Budget Office;
President, American Action Forum

Glenn Hubbard
Former Chair Council of Economic Advisers

Peter Kemper
Former Deputy Assistant Secretary
Office of the Assistant Secretary for Planning and Evaluation
Department of Health and Human Services

Jack Kingston
Former U.S. Representative (R-GA)

Charles Kolb
Former President Committee for Economic Development

Jim Kolbe
Former U.S. Representative (R-AZ)

Judith R. Lave
Professor Emerita of Health Economics
University of Pittsburgh

Michael O. Leavitt
Chairman
Leavitt Partners, LLC

Jacob J. Lew
Former U.S. Secretary of Treasury

Trent Lott
Former U.S. Senate Majority Leader (R-MS)

Maya MacGuineas
President
Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget

Brigitte Madrian
Dean, Marriott School of Business
Brigham Young University

Donald B. Marron
Former Acting Director,
Congressional Budget Office;
Institute Fellow, Urban Institute

Ted McCann
Vice President
American Idea Foundation

Tom McInerney
President & CEO
Genworth Financial

Buck McKeon
Former U.S. Representative (R-CA)

George Miller
Former U.S. Representative (D-CA)

Joe Minarik
Former Associate Director for Economic Policy
Office of Management and Budget

Olivia S. Mitchell
Economist

Marilyn Moon
Former Public Trustee of Social Security and Medicare

Monique Morrissey
Economist
Economic Policy Institute

Alicia H. Munnell
Director
Center for Retirement Research at Boston College

Paul H. O’Neill
Former U.S. Secretary of Treasury

John Palmer
University Professor and Dean Emeritus
Maxwell School of Citizenship and Public Affairs
Syracuse University

Warren Payne
Senior Policy Advisor
Mayer Brown

Robert Reischauer
Former Director, Congressional Budget Office;
Former Public Trustee of the Social Security and Medicare Trust Funds

Rudolph G. Penner
Former Director
Congressional Budget Office

Tim Penny
Former U.S. Representative (D-MN)

Debra Perry
Non-Executive Director
Genworth Financial

Tom Petri
Former U.S. Representative (R-WI)

Brian Riedl
Senior Fellow Manhattan Institute

Kathleen Romig
Senior Policy Analyst
Center on Budget and Policy Priorities

Alice F. Rosenblatt
Former MedPAC member

Avik Roy
President
The Foundation for Research on Equal Opportunity

Dallas Salisbury
Former President and CEO
Employee Benefit Research Institute

Sylvester Schieber
Former Chair of the Social Security Advisory Board

Allyson Y. Schwartz
Former U.S. Representative (D-PA);
President and CEO, Better Medicare Alliance

Kathleen Sebelius
Former U.S. Secretary of Health and Human Services;
Former Governor (D-KS)

Louise Sheiner
Robert S. Kerr Senior Fellow in Economic Studies and Policy Director for the Hutchins Center on Fiscal and Monetary Policy
The Brookings Institution

Alan Simpson
Former U.S. Senator (R-WY);
Co-chair of the National Commission on Fiscal Responsibility and Reform

Andy Slavitt
Former Acting Administrator Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services

Sita N. Slavov
Professor of Public Policy
George Mason University

Jack Smalligan
Senior Policy Fellow, Income and Benefits Policy Center
Urban Institute

Karen Smith
Senior Policy Fellow, Income and Benefits Policy Center
Urban Institute

Olympia Snowe
Former U.S. Senator (R-ME)

Eugene Steuerle
Economist

John Tierney
Former U.S. Representative (D-MA)

Rebecca Vallas
Senior Fellow
Center for American Progress

Paul Van de Water
Senior Fellow
Center on Budget and Policy Priorities

David M. Walker
Former Public Trustee of Social Security and Medicare;
Former U.S. Comptroller General

Mark A. Weinberger
Former Member of the Social Security Advisory Board;
Former Assistant Secretary of the Treasury for Tax Policy

Christian Weller
Senior Fellow
Center for American Progress

John Weston
Honorary Chairman
Automatic Data Processing Inc.

Gail Wilensky
Former Administrator
Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services

Larry Zimpleman
Former Chairman, President and CEO
Principal Financial Group

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