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Social Security at 73: Strong as Ever But Not if McCain Takes Office


Social Security at 73: Strong as Ever But Not if McCain Takes Office

by Mike Hall, Aug 14, 2008

Seventy-three years ago today, President Franklin Roosevelt signed the Social Security Act into law. Today, more than 42 million Americans count on that monthly check to help buy groceries, pay the rent or get medicine. For all these 73 years, Social Security has never missed a payment.

But if retirees, people with disabilities and other Social Security beneficiaries had to count on Wall Street and the stock market to ensure Social Security’s stability—as Sen. John McCain, President Bush and other Republican privatizers of Social Security have long sought—that reliability would replaced by an unacceptable risk.

That’s the message members of the Alliance for Retired Americans are spreading this week in more than two dozen Social Security celebrations and rallies across the country. In Pennsylvania and Colorado, alliance members will be shadowing McCain during his campaign stops to protest his Social Security privatization plan and his recent description of Social Security as “a disgrace.”

Unlike McCain, who has voted to privatize Social Security, Sen. Barack Obama has voted to strengthen Social Security and strongly opposes privatization. He also pledged not to cut benefits or raise the retirement age, two options McCain says are “on the table.”

Today at the Electrical Workers (IBEW) Local 743 union hall in Reading, Pa., alliance members will celebrate, but also warn that McCain’s privatization plan—patterned after Bush’s failed scheme—is too risky.

Says Pennsylvania Alliance President Jean Friday:

With the rising prices of gas, groceries and health care, leaving Social Security to the whims of the stock market through privatization is a gamble few Keystone State retirees can afford to take.

Alliance for Retired Americans President George Kourpias notes that McCain has not backed off from his recent comments that Social Security is a “disgrace.”

John McCain receives nearly $24,000 each year in Social Security. If he thinks Social Security is a “disgrace,” why doesn’t he mark “return to sender” on the envelope?

For most seniors, their Social Security check is a cornerstone to retirement security; to McCain, it’s chump change. If he did send it back, as a recent AFL-CIO mailer to union voters points out, he could just dip into his $100 million of personal wealth or look for some loose change in the couch cushions of his 10 homes and under the seats of the $12.6 corporate jet he flies around in.

Alliance Executive Director Ed Coyle says retirees are marking today’s birthday with “mixed feelings.”

Social Security is one of our nation’s greatest success stories—it has kept millions out of poverty and has allowed older Americans to retire with dignity. But at the same time, Sen. McCain and his allies continue to slander Social Security and promote dangerous privatization schemes.

We are reminding retirees that Sen. McCain continues to support President Bush’s plan to privatize Social Security. This would create Social Security accounts tied to the roller coaster of Wall Street. With all the turbulence in the stock market, and the rising prices of gas, groceries and health care, this is a gamble few retirees can afford to take.

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