This August marks the 75th anniversary of the landmark legislation creating Social Security. Celebrating this milestone reminds me of a promise made 75 years ago--a commitment made to all Americans, that said growing into the "Golden Years" of life would not force hard-working Americans into poverty and destitution. About 159 million American workers are eligible for Social Security benefits.
I am proud to say that year after year, Social Security continues to deliver on that promise -- and for the 436,445 beneficiaries in West Virginia, it is a vital pledge. Social Security has been strengthened over the years to provide family wage insurance in case of death or disability. For three-quarters of a century, through 13 recessions, Americans have relied on benefits that arrive on-time and in-full.
When we look at the fact that only half of workers have a pension or savings plan through their work, Social Security takes on more importance and necessity than ever; one reason you can be sure that I will continue to fight for it.
Over the years, there have been long and hard fights to protect, preserve, improve and strengthen Social Security; from expanding and fine-tuning it in the 1950s and 1960s, to refinancing the Social Security Trust Fund in the 1970s and 1980s. As our nation fights our way out of the worst recession since the Great Depression, we must renew our promise to our seniors, who -- in some cases, rely on Social Security benefits as their sole source of income -- by strongly opposing massive cuts and privatization. When the stock market plunged and the housing bubble burst, many older Americans saw life-long earnings evaporate overnight. But, there was one benefit America's seniors could count on: Social Security.
Some have pushed plans to privatize Social Security to the brink that frankly would reduce Social Security retirement and survivor benefits for a large number of hardworking Americans. Privatization would divert trillions of dollars from the Social Security Trust Fund into private accounts and put every worker's basic retirement security at risk. Eventually, under some schemes, four out of every ten dollars of Social Security payroll contributions would be diverted to private accounts -- threatening the ability of the Trust Fund to pay benefits to seniors today.
I believe we should not allow that to happen. Social Security is a principle foundation of our society, based on the belief that if you work hard and play by the rules you will have the stability and security of guaranteed income in your older years. Social Security is not the cause of our budget deficits, and benefits cuts are not the solution.
Social Security has been tested tried and true. It has provided the foundation for Americans' retirement security for generations and should be preserved for generations to come. Instead of working to dismantle Social Security, I am committing to working to strengthen the program.
Social Security has been here for 75 years, a bedrock promise. You've earned it with a lifetime of hard work, and it should be there for you and your future.
I look forward to hearing from you, and working with you as we move ahead. If you would like to read and answer my survey on Social Security email me at Rahallenews@gmail.com. Or sign-up to receive my e-newsletters and surveys so you can share your thoughts with me on issues that are important to you on my website at http://www.rahall.house.gov.