Bush Social Security Scheme Hits Rural Pennsylvanians Hardest

University Park, PA – As President Bush arrives in University Park, PA today to address the Future Farmers of America, one topic he’s not likely to bring up is the negative impact of his Social Security cuts on rural Pennsylvanians.

Because rural Americans tend to be older and more dependent on Social Security, the Bush Social Security overhaul plan – which includes both Social Security privatization and middle-class benefit cuts – would increase the number of rural Pennsylvanians living in poverty.


"Rural Pennsylvanians and Pennsylvania’s farmers are going to be in bad shape as a result of the Bush Social Security plan," said Joanne Tosti-Vasey, treasurer of Pennsylvania NOW and a member of Pennsylvanians United to Protect Social Security.  "Farming is one of the most hazardous occupations in America.  Because of the high incidence of disability and death, more farming families rely on disability benefits and survivors benefits.  The Bush plan would wipe those benefits out.  Privatization is a bad deal for rural Pennsylvanians."


Rural women will be hit even harder by the Bush Social Security overhaul.  Women in rural communities often rely on survivor benefits and disability benefits.  Under the Bush privatization plan, because workers who are disabled or die have less time to invest, surviving spouses and children could see benefit cuts of up to 35%.


Senior women in rural communities are often among Pennsylvania’s poorest citizens.  The reduction in retirement benefits as a result of Bush’s privatization and benefit cuts plan will plunge even more of their ranks into poverty.


"A greater number of rural Pennsylvanians rely on Social Security to survive," added Dianne Gregg of Centre County.  "Privatizing Social Security is like pulling the financial rug out from under them.  It’s a cruel trick and it will mean more rural and farming families will live in poverty.  It’s ironic that President Bush is speaking in Milton Eisenhower Auditorium as his brother President Eisenhower had the right idea about protecting rural families.  Ike was right.  Bush is wrong."


In 1954 President Dwight D. Eisenhower said in a letter, "Should any political party attempt to abolish social security, unemployment insurance, and eliminate labor laws and farm programs, you would not hear of that party again in our political history. There is a tiny splinter group, of course, that believes that you can do these things. Among them are… a few Texas oil millionaires, and an occasional politician or businessman from other areas. Their number is negligible and they are stupid."


Pennsylvanians United to Protect Social Security is a coalition of organizations committed to opposing Social Security benefit cuts for the middle class and any effort to privatize Social Security.  Coalition members include:  Action Alliance of Senior Citizens of Greater Philadelphia, AFSCME Council 13, Bethel AME Church of Lancaster, Citizens for Consumer Justice, Coalition of Labor Union Women, Philadelphia Chapter, Delco Action Seniors, Delaware County Progressives, Institute for the Study of Civic Values, IUP Labor Education Center, National Council of Jewish Women-PA, National Organization of Women, Philadelphia Chapter, Ni-Ta-Nee NOW, PennPIRG, Pennsylvania ACORN, Pennsylvania AFL-CIO, Pennsylvania Alliance of Retired Americans, Pennsylvania Council of Churches, Pennsylvania NOW, Pennsylvania Womens Law Project, Philadelphia Area Coalition to Defend Social Security, Philadelphia Central Labor Council, AFL-CIO, Philly VietNam Vets Against the War, Third World Coalition, Urban League of Lancaster, VoteBluePA, WomenVotePA, and Women’s Way.


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