Statement on Signing Social Security Legislation

December 29, 1981

I have signed into law H.R. 4331, a bill that substantially incorporates the social security changes which I urged in my address of September 24 to the nation -- restoration of the minimum benefit for people receiving that benefit, and interfund borrowing to tide the system over while the new National Commission on Social Security Reform develops a bipartisan plan to achieve long-lasting solutions to social security's financing problems.

I commend the Congress for its action on this bill, especially the chairmen and members of the House Committee on Ways and Means and Senate Committee on Finance.

There is no more important domestic issue on which we have to have a national consensus than social security, because it affects just about all of us either as current beneficiaries or current taxpayers. Continuing the minimum benefit for present beneficiaries reflects a bipartisan consensus, which I strongly support.

We all know that interfund borrowing is just a temporary solution to the financing difficulties ahead for social security, which are real and serious. The bill authorizes interfund borrowing until the end of 1982, the same time the new National Commission on Social Security Reform is scheduled to report its recommendations.

I am determined that we put social security back on a sound financial footing and restore the confidence and peace of mind of the American public in its social security system. That is the reason for the National Commission which I proposed in September and the members of which Majority Leader Baker, Speaker O'Neill, and I have just selected. I am confident that after they have reviewed all the options and agreed on a plan to assure the fiscal integrity of social security, the administration and the Congress will work together swiftly to enact legislation to restore the financial soundness of the social security system.

I believe that we should build any social security rescue plan around three very basic principles:

First, we must preserve the integrity of the trust funds and the basic social security benefit structure.

Second, we must eliminate abuses within the system and elements of the system which duplicate other programs, both of which could rob beneficiaries of their hard-earned benefits.

Third, we must hold down the tax burden on current and future workers.

I believe in those principles, and I think that a great majority of the American people believe in them, too.

I believe in the social security system. I believe that it will survive and keep its promise to this generation of beneficiaries and those to come.

Note: As enacted, H.R. 4331 is Public Law 97 - 123, approved December 29.