DEPARTMENTS OF LABOR, HEALTH AND HUMAN SERVICES, AND EDUCATION, AND RELATED AGENCIES APPROPRIATIONS ACT, 2005 -- (House of Representatives - September 09, 2004)
The SPEAKER pro tempore. Pursuant to House Resolution 754 and rule XVIII, the Chair declares the House in the Committee of the Whole House on the State of the Union for the further consideration of the bill, H.R. 5006.
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Mr. DeFAZIO. Mr. Chairman, I thank the gentleman for yielding me this time. I rise here in support of the Social Security system and concerns about its looming revenue shortfalls.
We heard from the esteemed chairman that this would only cost $500 million over 5 years. Now, the GAO says that that is not at all an accurate estimate. In fact, they said, the actions the Bush administration ``took to assess the integrity and compatibility of Mexico's Social Security system were limited and neither transparent nor well-documented. The administration provided no information showing it assessed the reliability of Mexican earnings data and the internal controls used to ensure the integrity of information that the Social Security Administration will rely on to pay Social Security benefits.''
In other words, the agreement could be setting the stage for massive fraud.
Mr. Chairman, $500 million is a lot of money around here. We have pitched battles over tens of thousands, hundreds of thousands, a few million, and to just dismiss this and say, well, $500 million. And then the point that, well, the House has to approve it. Well, if this was going to come to the House for an up-or-down vote for certain, and if we had to approve it before it became binding for all time on the people of the United States and our Social Security system, that would be one thing. This is under an upside down, backwards procedure that says, we can only vote if we are allowed to vote on a resolution of disapproval. There is no guarantee that such a resolution will be brought forward and no way to guarantee that.
So the question becomes will we take something the GAO has assessed as being on faulty data, poorly negotiated, with low-ball estimates on the cost, and just hope that we get to vote on it before it becomes binding, before it costs Social Security perhaps $1 billion over 5 years? We do not really know what it will cost. But with the looming shortfalls with Social Security, I do not believe we can take that risk.
We should go back to the drawing board. This should be done in a transparent manner. It should be done with good data. And then it should be brought forward with an assurance that we will get to vote up or down.