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Cantwell Pledges to Defend Washington Seniors from Republican Benefit Cuts on 71st Birthday of Social Security

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Location: Spokane, WA


Cantwell Pledges to Defend Washington Seniors from Republican Benefit Cuts on 71st Birthday of Social Security

Cantwell Making 26 Stops in 9 Days Along First Leg of "Putting Us First" Tour

SPOKANE, WA - Monday in Spokane, U.S. Senator Maria Cantwell pledged to defend Washington seniors' Social Security benefits from Republican plans to privatize the program and cut benefits for almost a million Washingtonians.

"Making it Congress' top priority to slash Washington seniors' guaranteed benefits by 85 percent and explode America's deficit by $1 trillion is the wrong choice," said Cantwell. "Instead of doing what's right, Republican leadership has once again made a different choice, and that choice is wrong for us. When Americans' face rising prescription drug costs and gas prices, how can we take money away from those who worked hard all their lives and are barely getting by now? We ought to be doing more to help. I said no to benefit cuts for Washington seniors last year, and I promise I'll say no again."

Spokane residents Jim Poston, Joann Austin and Sally and Ron Jackson spoke at Monday's event about how cuts in their benefits would put them in financial difficulty and thanked Cantwell for standing up for Washington and putting them first.

Last year, President Bush announced that dismantling Social Security with a risky investment scheme known as privatization was his "top domestic priority." Cantwell worked to stop this dangerous plan and protect guaranteed benefits for seniors in Spokane County and across Washington state.

But just two months ago, Bush said if he can't privatize Social Security this year, he will try it next year - and if not next year - he will try it the next. The Republican Congressional leadership has pledged that privatization will be a top priority in 2007, after this election.

Today marks the seventy-first anniversary of the day President Franklin Roosevelt signed the Social Security Act into law, beginning seven decades of guaranteed retirement benefits for millions of Americans.

937,567 Washingtonians receive benefits from the program, over half a million of them are retirees who depend on Social Security. The average monthly benefit for a Washingtonian is $965, amounting to just $11,919 per year. The average yearly benefit for Spokane County's nearly 45,000 retired workers is $11,577 a year.

If President Bush's privatization plan goes forward, future retirees in Spokane County could see their guaranteed benefits cut by 71 percent, down to only $830 a month or almost $10,000 a year. Over their lifetime, an average Spokane senior's guaranteed benefits could be cut by just over $500,000.

Despite the Republicans' control over all of the branches of the federal government, Cantwell has accomplished much in her first term. From standing up to the president and the Republican leadership to defend Social Security, from her bipartisan work cutting taxes for Washingtonians, strengthening Medicare and protecting Hanford workers, Cantwell puts us first. She stands up to special interests, working to expand health care access to rural areas, to make America more energy independent, stopping wage cuts for Washington workers, and making sure polluters, not taxpayers, pay for toxic cleanup.

Cantwell's stop in Spokane is one of many on her "Putting Us First" tour. On this leg of the tour, she'll make 26 stops through 13 cities and towns in 9 days to talk with Washingtonians about the issues that matter most to them. In 2000, Cantwell promised to travel to every county, every year and she's kept her promise. Every year, Cantwell has visited each of Washington's 39 counties to listen to Washingtonians talk about their priorities, their excitement about our state's successes, and their concerns about the direction of our nation.

Just the Facts: Under Bush's Plan - 71% Cut for Spokane Seniors' Benefits

In Spokane County:

* 43,051 retired workers in Spokane County are receiving Social Security benefits, an average of $965 a month or $11,577 a year. [Source: Social Security Administration]
* Under President Bush's privatization scheme, future retirees in Spokane County could see their guaranteed benefit cut by 71% to only $830.54 a month (a $2,053 cut from the current benefit of $2,883) or $9,966a year (a $24,639 cut from the current benefit of $34,605)
* Even under likely assumptions for what a private account might earn, these retirees could see a 26% cut of $745 a month or $8,951 a year, leaving them with an annual benefit of $25,654.
* Over the lifetime of an average recipient in Spokane County could lose $502,642 from their guaranteed benefits, or $182,601 even considering what a private account might earn. [Source: Center for Economic and Policy Research and Institute For America's Future methodology based on Bureau of Labor Statistics, CBO and SSA data]

Across Washington State:

* 591,560 retired workers in Washington state are receiving Social Security benefits, an average of $965/month or $11,919 a year. [Source: Social Security Administration]
* Under President Bush's privatization scheme, future retirees in Washington state could see their guaranteed benefit cut by 85%, to only $679.39 a month (a $2,440 cut from the current benefit of $3,118) or $8,140 a year (a $29,286 cut from the current benefit of $37,427)
* Even under likely assumptions for what a private account might earn, these retirees could see a 30% cut of $945 a month or $11,343 a year, leaving them with an annual benefit of $26,084.
* Over the lifetime of an average recipient in Washington State could lose $597,441, from their guaranteed benefits, or $231,397 even considering what a private account might earn. [Source: Center for Economic and Policy Research and Institute For America's Future methodology based on Bureau of Labor Statistics, CBO and SSA data]

http://www.cantwell.com/news/release/view/?id=66

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