Maya MacGuineas: Utah statesmen seek to fix our most pressing problems

(Rick Bowmer | AP) Utah Sen. Mitt Romney speaks during a news conference at the University of Utah Friday, Nov. 15, 2019, in Salt Lake City.

Political paralysis may grip Washington, but two Utah leaders are seeking solutions to some of our nation’s most pressing problems.

Last month, Sen. Mitt Romney, R-Utah, Rep. Ben McAdams, D-Utah, and other leaders from both chambers and parties introduced the Time to Rescue United States Trusts Act, or the TRUST Act. The bill would create bipartisan commissions to rescue the Social Security, Medicare and Highway trust funds before they run out of reserves.

Trust fund solvency may sound like an obscure topic, but it’s one that will affect nearly every person in Utah and the country.

Projections show the Highway Trust Fund will run out of reserve funds in just three years, the Medicare Hospital Insurance fund in seven years, and Social Security in roughly 15 years. Sooner rather than later, there won’t be enough money available to pave and build our highways, provide seniors with needed medical treatments, or pay full benefits to Social Security recipients.

Even 15 years isn’t very far off. Today’s youngest retirees will be in their 70s when Social Security’s trust fund runs dry – and when it does, they will be subject to an immediate 20 percent across-the-board benefit cut, as prescribed by law.

That’s not right, and it’s not fair. The TRUST Act may be our last best chance to prevent it from happening.

The idea is to create bipartisan, bicameral commissions made up of members of Congress that can come together to save these programs for current and future generations. If recommendations received the support of a majority of any 12-person commission, including at least two members of each party, they could then be fast-tracked for consideration in both chambers of Congress.

The commissions would be about more than just making the numbers add up; they’d be about actually improving infrastructure investment and financing, strengthening retirement security, reforming health care, promoting economic growth, and retargeting taxes and spending where they can do the most good. The sooner we act on this imperative, the more options we have.

The TRUST Act is also receiving growing support in Washington, from members of both parties. Joining Romney and McAdams on this critical effort are TRUST Act co-sponsors Sens. Joe Manchin, D-W.V; Todd Young, R-Ind.; Doug Jones, D-Ala.; Kyrsten Sinema, D-Ariz.; Shelley Moore Capito, R-W.V.; Lamar Alexander, R-Tenn.; Mike Rounds, R-S.D.; and Angus King, I-Maine; as well as Reps. Mike Gallagher, R-Wisc.; Ed Case, D-Hawaii; William Timmons, R-S.C.; Scott Peters, D-Calif.; Gil Cisneros, D-Calif.; and Jim Cooper, D-Tenn.

It is refreshing in this era of hyper-partisanship and governing by crisis to see lawmakers that seek to solve problems proactively. Responsibly meeting our nation’s unprecedented fiscal challenges requires both parties working together to achieve comprehensive solutions. The TRUST Act would go a long way toward facilitating those efforts.

Romney and McAdams deserve credit for having the courage and the integrity to help move us towards consensus and compromise.

Maya MacGuineas is president of the Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget.