HELENA, MONT. – A typical 20-year old in Montana 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 in Montana today and a 25 percent cut for a 35-year-old worker.
Montana leaders released the report today at a news conference at the State Capitol Building in Great Falls, one day before President Bush is expected to visit the city in a series of stops designed to sell his plan to replace the Social Security safety net with a risky privatization plan.
Sen. Carol Williams, D-Mont., opened the news conference, noting that we shouldn’t take away a guaranteed benefit and replace it with a guaranteed gamble, especially if it means taking away $152,000 from her child’s projected Social Security benefits.
“The hard working people of Montana are dead last in wages and the first in the number of people holding two jobs to make ends meet,” said Sen. Williams. “We need to strengthen Social Security, but privatization is the surest way to turn this problem into a crisis for a new generation of workers in Montana.”
AFSMCE Council 9 Executive Director Don Kinman joined Sen. Williams at the news conference. Kinman noted that privatization would only make the close relationship between corrupt Washington politicians and Wall Street cozier.
“Privatization would not only open up the door for corruption, but also for mismanagement of retirement accounts held by workers throughout Montana,” said Kinman. “There’s nothing safe about investing in fraudulent companies with crooked accountants, like Enron.”
Rep. Kevin Furey also spoke at the news conference as a 21-year-old Univ. of Montana, Missoula student. Furey is not prepared to rely on a volatile market for his retirement security as a matter of long-term planning for his family as well as safe public policy.
“Shame on the President for trying to go after our Social Security benefits,” said Rep. Furey. “Just because we are young and years away from retirement does not mean that we do not recognize Bush’s plan for what it really is – a privatization scheme that will cut our benefits.”
Betty Beverly, president of the Montana Senior Citizens Association, noted that privatization would gamble a vital safety net for millions of Americans on Wall Street.
“Even the savviest investors have taken big losses by playing the stock market,” said Beverly. “Without Social Security’s safety net, more than half our retirees would be living in poverty. Privatization means benefit cuts. Seniors in Montana won’t stand for the president’s privatization plan that cuts benefits, whether the axe falls on us, our children or our precious grandchildren.”
There are currently 163,655 people in Montana who depend on Social Security’s safety net. More than 103,000 of these beneficiaries are workers, retired after a life of work. A typical retired worker in Montana 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 Montanans by $700 million each year, including the White House’s income estimates from private accounts. This accounts for more than one-fifth of the state’s government expenditures in 2002.
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**NOTE: Media representatives interested in a copy of the Montana Social Security report released today by the Institute for America’s Future should visit http://ourfuture.org/document.cfm?documentID=1768 **