by Edward F. Coyle | August 14, 2013
On today’s anniversary of Social Security, Americans across the country reflect on the strength and success of the program in its 78 years. Social Security provides financial security, independence, and dignity for seniors in their retirement years. Through war, Depression and multiple recessions, it has never missed a payment and has amassed a $2.7 trillion surplus.
With the reliability of pensions, 401ks and housing values dwindling, Social Security remains more important than ever for today’s seniors and for future generations. Americans across the political spectrum strongly believe we need to strengthen this vital program, not cut it. Over the past months, citizen activists have been out in the streets with a message for any elected official considering compromising the program in a budget deal: ‘Don’t even think about it.’
The average monthly benefit for a retiree is a modest $1,200. It is unreasonable to cut Social Security benefits, including raising the retirement age or adopting the chained CPI.
Beyond dodging misguided cuts, there are proposals and support to strengthen Social Security well into the future while also enhancing benefits. Senator Harkin’s Strengthening Social Security Act of 2013, S. 567 lays out a framework that will help rebuild America’s retirement security. The bill extends the life of the Trust Fund by gradually lifting the payroll cap while increasing Social Security benefits by about $65 per month. It also adopts the CPI-E as the proper measure for calculating Social Security COLAs.
Too many politicians and news outlets are still making the misguided claim that we need to cut Social Security in order to reduce the federal deficit. The truth is: Social Security has not contributed one penny to the deficit. Workers and employers pay into Social Security all their working lives.
Social Security belongs to the people who have worked hard all their lives and contributed to the program, not to politicians in Washington who want to use it as a piggy bank to provide tax cuts to the rich or bailouts to Wall Street. Our children and grandchildren deserve a chance at a safe and secure retirement. We do not want to be the last generation to retire.”
Edward F. Coyle is the Executive Director of the Alliance for Retired Americans, of which AFSCME is an affiliate. Learn more about how AFSCME is working to strengthen Social Security.
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