Events in Context: The 1983 Greenspan Commission

Social Security

Ambassador writing program

The Summary

In 1977, an aging population and recently expanded benefits threatened Social Security’s future. The trust fund was projected to go bankrupt by 1983, and according to the program’s trustees, if we waited until then to make changes, only a 70 percent tax hike would restore the program to solvency.

In 1981, President Ronald Reagan and congressional leaders appointed a commission to devise a solution to the crisis. Led by Alan Greenspan, future chairman of the Federal Reserve, the commission included House and Senate members from both parties, so neither party would be able to blame the other for proposing tax hikes or benefit cuts. After two years of study, the commission delivered its unanimous recommendations to Congress.

The Greenspan Commission’s report led to the last major reform of Social Security to date. Signed into law in April 1983, it shored up the program by delaying benefits for younger generations and asking working Americans to contribute more to their retirement:

Greenspan Commission Table

Nearly 40 years later, the Greenspan Commission remains a testament to bipartisan leadership and cooperation.

You can read the entire 1983 Greenspan Commission Report here.

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