BISMARCK, N.D. – A typical 20-year-old North Dakotan 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 cut for a 45-year-old worker today and a 25 percent cut for a 35-year-old worker.
Statewide leaders released the report today at a news conference at the Kelly Inn in Bismarck, one day before President Bush is expected to visit Fargo to kick off his campaign to replace the Social Security safety net with a risky privatization plan.
North Dakota AFL-CIO President Dave Kemnitz opened the news conference, noting that privatization would gamble a vital safety net for millions of Americans on Wall Street and that the President’s privatization plan is not worth $152,000 of our children’s savings.
“Social Security is not a ‘get rich quick’ scheme, it’s a safety net for North Dakotans who have worked hard their whole life and who have paid into the system,” said Kemnitz. “President Bush wants to shortchange our children out of $152,000 in earned Social Security benefits to give his Wall Street buddies a handout. We shouldn’t take away a guaranteed benefit and replace it with a guaranteed gamble.”
North Dakota Progressive Coalition executive director Don Morrison joined Kemnitz at the news conference. Morrison noted that President Bush’s plan would only open the door for corruption and mismanagement of retirement accounts held by workers.
“Privatization would only make the close relationship between Washington Republicans and Wall Street cozier,” said Morrison. “People who think they have safe retirements today would find that their privatized Social Security checks are being managed by fraudulent companies with crooked accountants, like Enron.”
Recent North Dakota State University graduate Jessica Gilbertson also spoke at the news conference. Gilbertson decided to stay in the state to pursue her career and is not prepared to rely on a volatile market for her retirement security.
“Take $152,000 out of my pocket? Not so fast,” said Gilbertson. “The stock market is too volatile to rely on with Social Security. We’re still recovering from the market loss because of 9-11. A terrorist act, a Wall Street crash, or some other disaster can send our markets into chaos and wipe out any and all of my Social Security benefits. And what if those big money guys rip me off? Ken Lay is still a free man and all of those Enron workers still have nothing.”
There are currently 114,000 people in North Dakota who depend on Social Security’s safety net. More than 71,000 of these beneficiaries are workers, retired after a life of work. The typical retired worker in North Dakota 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 North Dakotans income by $500 million each year, including the White House’s income estimates from private accounts. This accounts for about one-fifth of the state’s government expenditures in 2002.
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**NOTE: Media representatives interested in a copy of the North Dakota Social Security report released today by the Institute for America’s Future should visit http://www.ourfuture.org/document.cfm?documentID=1769 **