Friday, October 15, 2010

Senators Put White House on Notice: Cuts to Social Security Won’t Work

Last week, eleven senators drafted a resolution in opposition to privatizing Social Security and raising the retirement age. It baffles me that just eleven senators signed on to this resolution considering Social Security’s role in building economic security for not only seniors, but children, widows and people with disabilities. Perhaps other senators are unaware that Social Security is 90% or more of the income in retirement for 3 in 10 seniors and that without it more than half would live below the federal poverty level.

Furthermore, at a Senate hearing on why the President’s National Commission on Fiscal Responsibility and Reform should not look at Social Security to solve the nation’s federal deficit, Sen. Sanders (I-VT), who signed the resolution, acknowledged that Social Security has not contributed to the deficit. So, why would the Commission look to it to solve the deficit problem? Perhaps because it is currently running a huge surplus; but let’s remember this surplus is allocated to the people and families who have paid into the program and is not to be used to close the government’s deficit.

WOW just wrapped up five day-long regional meetings across the country as part of our Building Bridges to Economic Security Campaign. We met with over 130 organizations, many of which participated in our policy sessions on Social Security. Whether we were in Philadelphia, Los Angeles, or in between, one theme resonated across the country: Social Security must be strengthened for future generations. We already know from WOW’s Elder Index that living on Social Security alone is not enough to meet a senior’s basic needs – so benefit cuts would only exacerbate this issue.

WOW applauds the senators who support this resolution because each recognizes that strengthening Social Security is not about making older workers stay in the workforce to make ends meet or assigning workers private savings accounts that can waiver in a volatile stock market. Strengthening Social Security is about keeping the promise to our current and future retirees that Social Security will be there for them as a dependable source of income in retirement.

Alisha Howell
Communications & Program Coordinator
Elder Economic Security Initiative

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