Tuesday, Cheri Bustos, candidate for Congress in Illinois' 17th Congressional District, joined with Illinois retirees at the Social Security Administration office in celebration of Social Security's 77th anniversary. Flanked by retirees holding signs that read "respect and protect retirement security", the event marked the Alliance for Retired Americans' endorsement of Cheri Bustos as she seeks to unseat incumbent tea party Congressman Bobby Schilling.
"Your positions demonstrate a strong commitment to improve the quality of life of older Americans. Your leadership on issues such as preserving and protecting Social Security and Medicare from privatization and benefit cuts exhibits that commitment," President Barbara Easterling said in a letter announcing the endorsement. Bustos commented on the day's historical significance, "Seventy seven years ago today, President Franklin Roosevelt signed the Social Security Act into law. I am pleased to be standing here to celebrate the birthday of social security and to recommit to the promises we made, as a nation all those years ago." She continued, "I am honored to accept the endorsement of the Alliance for Retired Americans. This election cycle we must fight harder than ever to protect Social Security and Medicare and I am proud to have the support of the Alliance in that fight."
Cheri Bustos opposes privatization of social Security and Medicare, instead she advocates strengthening the programs and protecting them for future generations. Alternatively, Bustos' opponent, Bobby Schilling, supports Representative Paul Ryan's controversial budget initiatives which, in the Wall Street Journal's words would "essentially end Medicare", create a fast-track procedure for cuts to Social Security -- all while keeping the Bush tax cuts and tax breaks for the wealthiest Americans and big corporations. Schilling's support for privatizing the Medicare program would dramatically increase out-of-pocket costs for seniors' health care and put insurance companies in control of care.
"We cannot afford to gamble on Wall Street with the security of our seniors and future generations. In these tough economic times, we cannot saddle seniors with higher out of pocket costs. Medicare and Social Security are part of a solemn promise: work hard, pay your taxes and we will make sure you get the health care you earned when you need it most. We need to keep that promise," concluded Bustos.
The Alliance for Retired Americans represents over 4 million retirees and community activists, including more than 240,000 in Illinois. Cheri Bustos is a working mother with three grown sons and is married to a captain with the Rock Island County Sheriff's Department. Bustos is running to fix Washington's priorities to responsibly cut spending and ensure that middle class families and good jobs come first.