Cadott, WI – Wisconsin United to Protect Social Security along with the Wisconsin Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection Secretary Rod Nilsestuen and the Wisconsin Farmers Union held a press conference today to decry steep benefit cuts and the risky privatization scheme under President Bush’s Social Security proposal as part of the launch of Rural Americans for a Secure Future in Wisconsin. Wisconsin United released a report showing that the state’s rural areas depended on Social Security income more than the non-rural communities.
"Wisconsin is a state that has built its foundation on its farms and rural communities," said DATCP Secretary Rod Nilsestuen. "This rural Wisconsin report shows that it will be the backbone of this great state that will suffer the most under the President’s new provisions. That is why I am here to let the President, and all those who support his plan know that rural Wisconsinites want their Social Security to remain secure."
"Wisconsin farmers have a tremendous financial, physical and emotional investment in their farm. They understand the value of what they’ve grown — including Social Security," said Sue Beitlich, President of the Wisconsin Farmers Union. "Social Security is an important guaranteed retirement benefit that farmers have earned and are counting on. For most farmers who pass on their farm to the next generation, they rely on this benefit during their retirement years, and President Bush and Congress should not take that away."
The mandatory benefit cuts included in the President’s Social Security privatization plan would hurt Wisconsin’s rural communities more harshly than urban communities. For every county in Wisconsin, the Institute for America’s Future analyzed Social Security income and beneficiary data as well as other distinguishing characteristics from the Social Security Administration, Congressional Budget Office, Bureau of Economic Analysis and other sources. The study found that the state’s rural communities depend on income from Social Security more than the non-rural communities.
According to the National Association of Counties, there are 45 non-metropolitan or rural counties in Wisconsin. Total personal income in these counties was fully $27,980,112,000 in 2003 according the Bureau of Economic Analysis (BEA). The BEA reports that individuals with Social Security income in these counties cumulatively received $2,270,744,000 in Social Security benefits - or 8.1 percent. Although non-rural communities rely on Social Security income, they do not nearly as much as rural areas. There are 27 non-rural communities in Wisconsin with a total personal income of $139,998,882,000 with individuals receiving $7,298,628,000 in Social Security benefits – or 5.2 percent.
"Rural Americans need the guaranteed benefits of Social Security even more than their urban counterparts because of the existing disparity in wealth and disability," said Jon Lipshutz, State Director for Wisconsin United. "This report clearly shows that any reduction in benefits would have a disproportionate negative impact on the state’s rural communities. We call on Congressman Mark Green, who is also running for Governor, to stand up for rural communities in Wisconsin."