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February 2, 2005 - Social Security has for nearly 70 years provided a predictable, guaranteed benefit to millions of older and disabled workers and their survivors.  This benefit, funded exclusively by Social Security payroll taxes paid by workers and their employers, is one that can and should be safeguarded for generations to come.

The Bush administration claims that radical changes to Social Security, including privatization, are necessary to maintain the solvency of this program.  Significant changes to a program of such consequence require and, indeed, demand informed discussion and should not be reduced to sound bites, platitudes or scare tactics.

In truth, Social Security is not headed for disaster, but many people agree that modest steps should be taken to maintain the integrity of this program upon which millions of current and future beneficiaries rely.  However, the financial strain privatization would impose upon the Social Security program would pose serious and long-lasting perils to the stability of this tremendously successful program.

Privatizing Social Security would add $2 trillion to the already runaway federal deficit.  The Bush administration’s proposed changes to Social Security will do nothing to enhance this program’s solvency.  In fact, in order to restore solvency to a privatized Social Security program, younger workers’ benefits would have to be cut by 26-45 percent – a prospect that is totally unacceptable.

Analyses of privatization proposals show that younger workers will get hit twice: once with a reduction in Social Security benefits and again with the burden they will be forced to carry to pay off the grossly expanding federal debt.

Popular assumptions that Social Security will “run out” before younger workers can collect the benefits they have earned are not supported by reality.  Social Security taxes to be collected and money owed to the Social Security system are adequate to allow full benefits to be paid until 2042.  Additional modest adjustments would further stabilize this important program.

Privatizing Social Security and reducing benefits would jeopardize not only younger workers’ long-term retirement benefits, but also the disability and survivor benefits provided by this program.  Thirteen million Americans currently rely upon such benefits, and it is safe to assume that few of them ever anticipated needing this life-saving benefit.

Privatizing Social Security will unnecessarily destabilize a program that has allowed hundreds of millions of Americans to live with dignity and security.  The administration’s current proposals would weaken the program and undermine its long-term financial stability.  We will work with members of Congress, as well as with the labor movement and other allies, to strengthen Social Security to ensure that it will provide its promised benefits for generations to come.  Workers have earned this benefit by paying into it over time and they should not be guinea pigs for a flawed social experiment.
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