Gratitude for Social Security

Together, through our Social Security system, we protect ourselves, our families, and our communities against the devastating loss of wages in the event of retirement, disability, or death.

Social Security represents the best of American values, including reward for hard work, sturdy self-reliance, and shared risks.

Over 65 million Americans receive Social Security benefits, which lift 22.5 million people—including more than a million children—out of poverty every year and lessen the depth of poverty of millions more. In addition to Social Security’s retirement benefits, the program benefits over nine million people with disabilities and four million children directly, with their own benefits that have been earned by themselves or working parents. Moreover, these benefits, paid like clockwork every month, are overwhelmingly spent in the local community, creating economic activity and, along with it, jobs and prosperity.

Social Security represents the best of American values, including reward for hard work, sturdy self-reliance, and shared risks. It is efficient, universal, fair, portable, and secure. Nearly every American is either a current Social Security beneficiary, or is likely to benefit in the future.

Virtually everyone has a loved one who receives Social Security. And everyone benefits by living in a society with past leaders who had the foresight to ensure that virtually everyone has some measure of basic economic security.

This Thanksgiving, families across the country appreciate our Social Security system. If they don’t give express thanks, it is because it may not come to mind, for good reason. Social Security is always there, quietly in the background, doing what it was created to do: Protecting us if the unfortunate strikes us in the form of disability or death leaving dependents or if the fortunate occurs, in the form of long life.

In addition, those of us working to protect and expand Social Security have another reason to feel thankful and breathe a sigh of relief: Republicans did far worse than expected in the midterm elections, which decreases the threat that they pose to our Social Security system. .

In the months leading up to the election, Republican politicians barely bothered to hide their deep desire to cut, or even dismantle, Social Security’s earned benefits. They mouthed their usual platitudes about “saving” Social Security, but released plans to do exactly the opposite.

Senator Rick Scott (R-FL) released a plan to put Social Security and Medicare on the Congressional chopping block every five years. Not to be outdone, Senator Ron Johnson (R-WI) announced his support for turning Social Security and Medicare into “discretionary spending” meaning that they would lose their ironclad guarantee. Instead, they would be subjected to Congressional negotiations, likely to result in benefit cuts (or at best, delay benefits) every single year. Millions of Social Security beneficiaries who rely on Social Security would be harmed. They would certainly be surprised to hear that their earned benefits are “discretionary!”

The Republican Study Committee, a group that counts about 75 percent of House Republicans as members, was even more explicit about the party’s intentions. Instead of hiding behind process and complicated concepts like discretionary spending and sunsetting of programs, as Scott and Johnson did, the RSC released a detailed plan to cut Social Security in multiple ways: Raising the retirement age to 70 (a 21 percent benefit cut), slashing middle class benefits, and handing billions of dollars of Social Security’s revenue over to Wall Street and private insurance corporations.

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