MONTGOMERYVILLE, Pa. – A typical 20-year-old Pennsylvanian will lose $152,000 during retirement if the president’s Social Security privatization plan is enacted, according to a report released today by the Institute for America’s Future. It would also mean a 15 percent benefit cut for a 45-year-old worker today and a 25 percent benefit cut for a 35-year-old worker in Pennsylvania.
Rep. Allyson Y. Schwartz, D-Pa., joined hundreds of Pennsylvania residents to release the report today at a news conference held by the Citizens for Consumer Justice at the Quality Inn, the same day that President Bush is expected to visit Montgomery County to push his plan to replace the Social Security safety net with a risky privatization plan.
Rep. Schwartz opened the news conference explaining that taking on massive debt in a risky scheme is not the answer to fixing Social Security, and that as a nation, we must keep the promise of a guaranteed benefit to American workers.
“Let’s be clear. The pillars on the Social Security card we all have actually stand for something– they stand for stability and trust,” said Rep. Schwartz. “For generations, Social Security has honored the hard work and sacrifices of Americans by making them a promise. President Bush’s proposal to privatize Social Security is not only fiscally irresponsible, but it will irreversibly damage those pillars of Social Security.”
John Meyerson, political director of UFCW Local 1776, joined Rep. Schwartz at the news conference, highlighting the importance of Social Security’s guaranteed benefit for everyday Pennsylvanians looking for retirement security after a life of hard work.
“We will not stand silently while this administration breaks a lifetime of promises to our parents and our children,” said Meyerson. “The real risk with this privatization plan is that decisions about what happens with our Social Security will not rest with everyday people, but with politicians and the banks who make big political contributions. We need a plan that benefits workers, not the wealthy.”
Walt Collins, a member of the Pennsylvania Alliance for Retired Americans, of Upper Dublin Township, shared the experiences of his granddaughter, who is severely disabled.
“Without Social Security’s guaranteed benefits, I worry about my granddaughter’s future,” said Collins. “Social Security provides a vital safety net for the disabled and for the 1.5 million retired workers who live in Pennsylvania. That is a promise that we need to keep.”
Ray Murphy, 25, of Philadelphia, said what the privatization plan means for young people, and the debt that they would inherit as a result of the president’s plan.
“Not only would my benefits be cut by $152,000 by the time I retire, but I will be forced to pay off the massive debt,” said Murphy. “The $15 trillion transition cost over the next 45 years will follow my generation and the next generation for years to come. Social Security needs solid funding, not IOUs.”
Pennsylvania Association of Staff Nurses and Allied Employees worker Jerry Silberman said that Pennsylvania workers deserve the benefits they have already put into the system.
“Pennsylvania workers will not stand for a plan that makes things worse,” said Silberman. “Decisions about our retirement security should be based on what’s best for everyday working people who have put in a lifetime of hard work.”
Today’s report shows that there are almost 2.4 million people in Pennsylvania who currently depend on Social Security’s safety net. More than 1.5 million of these beneficiaries are workers, retired after a life of work. The typical retired worker in Pennsylvania received a Social Security check for $895 each month in his or her mailbox in 2003.
According to the National Women’s Law Center, the president’s plan would cut income to Pennsylvanians by $10.9 billion each year, including the White House’s income estimates from private accounts. This accounts for one-quarter of the state’s government expenditures in 2002.
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**NOTE: Media representatives interested in a copy of the Pennsylvania Social Security report released today by the Institute for America’s Future should visit