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For Immediate Release

Thursday, July 29, 2010

Coalition of 60 Groups Representing Over 30 Million Americans Launch Campaign to Fight Social Security Cuts by Fiscal Commission

Richard Trumka (AFL-CIO), Gerald McEntee (AFSCME), Justin Ruben (MoveOn.org), Dennis Van Roekel (NEA), Eliseo Medina (SEIU), Terry O'Neill (NOW), Donna Meltzer (Consortium for Citizens with Disabilities), Hilary Shelton (NAACP), Ed Coyle (Alliance for Ret

Washington, DC — 

With press accounts indicating that the Administration’s fiscal commission is considering recommending that Congress cut Social Security benefits, a diverse group of organizations launched a major new campaign today to push back and demand that Congress not make any benefit cuts. New polling shows massive public support for members of Congress who support strengthening, not cutting, Social Security.

More than 60 national and state organizations, representing more than 30 million Americans, have joined the campaign, which will remind elected officials that Social Security remains the “third rail” of American politics and that any sort of benefit cuts are opposed by wide majorities, from liberals to Tea Partiers. At today’s press conference, participants outlined their plans to hold members of Congress who try to cut Social Security benefits accountable.

For more on the campaign: http://strengthensocialsecurity.org/
For more on the polling: http://strengthensocialsecurity.org/sites/default/files/LakeMemoPublicFINAL6-29-10.pdf

The first action of the campaign will be to hold hundreds of community events in August to mark the 75th anniversary of Social Security.

“At a time when retirement is less secure for working Americans than it has been in many generations, only Social Security remains a defined and stable retirement benefit,” said Richard L. Trumka, President of the AFL-CIO. “Raising the eligibility age for a full Social Security benefit would be disastrous for millions of Americans. It is a benefit cut, plain and simple. It is a cut that is unnecessary and one that Americans can ill-afford. I know that America can do better than this. And that’s why the AFL-CIO, as part of a broad campaign, is mobilizing to protect Social Security.”

“Social Security is more than just a retirement program. It also provides benefits for disabled workers and surviving family members, which are imperative to the survival of a disproportionately high number of African Americans,” said Hilary Shelton, Director of the Washington Bureau and Senior Vice President for Advocacy and Policy of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People. “Nearly half of all African Americans who receive Social Security benefits receive disability or survivors benefits, compared to 28 percent of white Social Security beneficiaries. Thus any proposed decrease in disability or survivors benefits would disproportionately hurt African Americans.”

“We have a message for the Commission: Don’t turn Social Security into the scapegoat for the deficit. Social Security is not the problem,” said Gerald W. McEntee, President of the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees. “Don’t raise the retirement age. Don’t tamper with the COLA. If you break the promise that was made to America’s working families, we’ll hold you accountable.”

“I am here today to add the Consortium for Citizens with Disabilities’ voice to the effort to oppose any cuts to Social Security benefits, including raising the retirement age,” said Donna Meltzer, Senior Director of Government Relations for the Epilepsy Foundation and Chairperson of the Consortium for Citizens with Disabilities. “It is critical to know that people with disabilities and their families are found across Social Security’s retirement, survivors and disability insurance programs. More than one-third of all monthly Social Security checks go to more than 20 million people who are not retirees.”

“Social Security is especially vital to women, who would be disproportionately harmed by cuts in benefits,” said Terry O’Neill, President of the National Organization for Women. “Rather than putting millions of women's financial security at risk, the Fiscal Commission should address the real causes of the deficit -- unfunded wars, irresponsible tax breaks for the wealthiest, and an economic crisis caused by financial regulatory failures. Women are watching the commissioners, but will we be invisible to them?”

“The Strengthen Social Security campaign unites everyone here to improve – not weaken - Social Security,” said Ed Coyle, Executive Director of the Alliance for Retired Americans. “We are united against any cuts in benefits, such as increases in the retirement age, and to any form of privatization of Social Security.”

“The one retirement source we can count on in this country is Social Security," said Eliseo Medina, International Executive Vice President of the Service Employees International Union. "When savings evaporated and home values plummeted after Wall Street crashed the economy, Social Security kept sending out checks, the same way it has for more than 75 years. Our conversation as a nation should be focused on adequacy issues, how we strengthen and improve upon Social Security, not how we tear it down.”

“We look forward to working with this broad coalition to help the American people celebrate the great success of Social Security, and to ensure that 75 years from now, Social Security will be as strong as it is today,” said Dennis Van Roekel, President of the National Education Association.

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