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PORTSIDE  August 2010, Week 1

PORTSIDE August 2010, Week 1

Subject:

Coalition Launches Drive to Fight Social Security Cuts

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Tue, 3 Aug 2010 20:02:21 -0400

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Coalition Launches Drive to Fight Social Security Cuts

By Mike Hall, Jul 29, 2010

AFL-CIO Blog

http://strengthensocialsecurity.org/lockdown/about/coalition

AFL-CIO Media Outreach fellow Jennifer Angarita contributed
to this report.

As Social Security turns 75 years old Aug. 14, the nation's
most successful social program likely will be under attack by
the federal budget deficit commission, which, by all
accounts, is considering benefits cuts and raising the
retirement age.

Today, more than 60 groups, including the AFL-CIO, announced
the creation of the coalition Strengthen Social
Security - Don't Cut It. The group is launching a major
mobilization to push back the commission's phony assertions,
backed by the Wall Street spin machine, that claim Social
Security is a major component of the budget deficit and is
teetering on the brink of disaster.

In a press conference at the National Press Club in
Washington, D.C., the group outlined plans to build support
in Congress to fight benefits cuts and press candidates this
election to pledge to fight any move to raise the retirement
age or privatization scheme. Says Ed Coyle, executive
director of the Alliance for Retired Americans:

The Strengthen Social Security campaign unites everyone here
to improve-not weaken-Social Security. We are united against
any cuts in benefits, such as increases in the retirement
age, and to any form of privatization of Social Security.

We will stand united if the commission calls for any cuts to
Social Security. We are launching a major lobbying campaign
for Congress to block their recommendations.

Speaking at the press conference, AFL-CIO President Richard
Trumka said that raising the retirement age is:

a benefit cut, plain and simple. It is a cut that is
unnecessary and one that Americans can ill-afford.

He also says it unfairly singles out workers in demanding
physical occupations,

    workers like my father who spent his life in the mines
    and couldn't work another day by the time he qualified
    for Social Security-and those older workers who may no
    longer be able to find work due to age discrimination.

Social Security benefits are the largest source of retirement
income for most retirees. For six of 10 seniors, Social
Security represents more than half of their income. In
addition, nearly one-half of older unmarried women and
widows, and one-third of all beneficiaries, have little other
than Social Security and rely on its monthly benefit for 90
percent or more of their retirement income. Says Terry
O'Neill, president of the National Organization for Women
(NOW):

Social Security is the mainstay for millions of older women.
Every year, a major share of the nearly 24 million women age
62 and older who receive benefits are kept out of poverty
because of Social Security. Often that monthly Social
Security check is their only income.

A new Gallup Poll out today shows that by a nearly 2- to-1
margin, Americans oppose raising the retirement age and, by
an even bigger margin, say the best way to strengthen Social
Security is to ensure the wealthiest pay their fair share.

Currently, all workers pay the Social Security payroll tax on
the first $106,000 of their earnings. Earnings above $106,000
are exempt from the Social Security payroll tax. That means a
grocery clerk or warehouse worker pays a bigger chunk of
income to Social Security than a hedge fund manager. By a 67
percent to 30 percent margin, the public supports raising the
Social Security payroll tax to cover all earnings.

Also taking part in the press conference, AFSCME President
Gerald McEntee says the deficit commission is trying to

turn Social Security into a scapegoat for the deficit. Social
Security is not the  problem.

Social Security-with a $2.6 trillion surplus projected to
grow to $4.3 trillion by 2023-is not the cause of the
nation's deficit. Says O'Neill:

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.

This fall, says Coyle, coalition members will be 'demanding
clear, unequivocal answers from the candidates on where they
stand on Social Security.'

As McEntee warns congressional candidates:

If you break promise from 75 years ago, we will hold you
accountable. Keep your hands off our Social Security.

_____________________________________________

Portside aims to provide material of interest
to people on the left that will help them to
interpret the world and to change it.

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