The House acted yesterday to assure Social Security recipients that their benefits won't be taxed and that the trust fund paying them won't run out of cash.

By 384 to 1, the House passed and sent to the Senate a resolution stating that Congress has no intention of taxing part of Social Security retirement payments as recommended by an advisory panel last year. Social Security benefits never have been taxed. An administrative ruling that has the force of law long ago ruled they are not taxable. And it seems inconceivable that many elected politicians would vote to tax them. Rep. Anthony Beilenson (D-Calif.) cast the lone negative vote.

Still, the recommendation made a lot of retirees fear they might lose some of their modest payments. The House acted in response to a directive from the caucus of all House Democrats.

The House approved and sent to the Senate by voice vote a bill that will temporarily switch money from the Social Security Disability Fund, which has a surplus, to the fund that pays retirement benefits and which -- because of higher than-expected inflation -- would run out of money next year if not given a transfusion. Three years ago Congress raised Social Security payroll taxes by an amount that made it the biggest peacetime tax bill in history. But that wasn't enough to keep up with double-digit inflation.