As Senator Bernie Sanders has warned, “Social Security faces an unprecedented attack from Wall Street, the Republican Party and a few Democrats. If the American people are not prepared to fight back, the dismantling of Social Security could begin in the very near future.”
What exactly does the 99 Percent need to know to defend Social Security against the Wall Street One Percenters who want to profit by destroying it?
First, know our adversaries. Listen closely to the corporate-funded Heritage Foundation, headed by Tea Party hero and former Senator Jim DeMint. They want to turn part of our retirement and disability savings over to the same Wall Street firms that crashed our economy.
Heritage’s Social Security plan would
- Raise the retirement age.
- Cut benefits for many middle and higher income seniors, including some earning as little as $55,000 per year.
- Reduce cost of living increases.
- Create a Wall Street-controlled “retirement savings” plan to partly replace the lost Social Security earnings.
Heritage’s Social Security expert even told Congress that he wants to make it profitable for “banks, mutual funds, insurance carriers, brokerage firms” to manage a growing share of your retirement.
Second, to counter this pro-Wall Street campaign, we need to understand some basic truths about Social Security:
- Social Security protects everyone, not just the elderly. In addition to 43 million retirees and elderly widow(er)s, it helps 19 million disabled Americans and two million children of deceased parents. Nearly six million children live in homes that depend on Social Security.
- Social Security is social insurance for every American. Any scheme to cut benefits for middle-income seniors is just the first step toward undermining Social Security’s support by stigmatizing it as a “welfare program” for the poor.
- No one gets rich on Social Security. The average benefit is about $14,000 per year. But this modest payment lifts 14 million elderly Americans out of poverty.
- The inflation protection now under attack keeps all these beneficiaries out of poverty when living costs rise.
- The people most harmed by workplace wage discrimination – women and people of color – benefit most from Social Security.
- Social Security is not facing financial crisis. Very modest reforms can keep it solvent for more than 75 years – long enough to protect not just today’s elderly but every living American.
For more of the real facts about Social Security, turn to the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities.
And don’t stand on the sidelines! Click here to join the thousands of people who have signed this pledge to defend Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid/Medi-Cal.
(Steve Askin is Research Director for Good Jobs LA, where his post first appeared. The opinions expressed above are his own. Republished with permission.)