Cynthia Dill, Democratic nominee for U.S. Senate, met with voters at a senior center in South Portland today, telling them, "I am here to fight with you for the future of Social Security and for the dignity of our senior citizens."
In a scheduled campaign stop at the residence for senior citizens, Dill held informal talks with residents. She delivered a speech emphasizing her steadfast defense of the insurance program that's under attack by the GOP presidential ticket.
"Social Security is the farthest thing from an entitlement," she told residents. "Every working American pays into Social Security; each and every one of you has paid into it over the course of your working lives. Social Security is insurance.
"From its inception, Social Security has provided a powerful safety net for widows and widowers; for people with disabilities and for our children. It has worked, and it continues to a success. The Social Security safety net must be protected, not ransacked."
The full text of her remarks follows. For a photo album of the event, visit our Facebook page.
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It is so true in life that we often don't know what we have -- until it is gone.
As a society, we can take our freedoms for granted. As a community, we can view equality and civil rights as important values that will always be there.
But the truth is, we have always had to fight for our freedoms and for our core values as Americans.
Today, I am here to fight with you for the future of Social Security and for the dignity of our senior citizens.
Social Security is not an entitlement program, as so many extreme right-wing pundits would have you believe. With that kind of negative label, Social Security is easy to demonize.
Social Security is the farthest thing from an entitlement. Every working American pays into Social Security; each and every one of you has paid into it over the course of your working lives. Social Security is insurance.
Because of all those payroll taxes, which you paid, Social Security is a retirement program that has been incredibly successful. Thanks to Social Security, Americans' golden years are a joy and not something spent in ruinous poverty.
From its inception, Social Security has provided a powerful safety net for widows and widowers; for people with disabilities and for our children. It has worked, and it continues to a success.
The Social Security safety net must be protected, not ransacked.
As I noted, this is no entitlement program; Social Security is an investment that all of you have paid into your entire working lives. As seniors, I know how much you must rely on Social Security income. I know my mother does. So does my grandmother.
We can never let Social Security be taken for granted. We must always fight to preserve it and protect it. Each presidential election year, the program comes up for attack. This year is no different.
Because it is such a successful program, Social Security looks like a fat piggy bank to right-wing budget cutters eager for an simple solution to the nation's federal deficit.
Social Security is not their piggy bank. It is your retirement fund.
You paid into it. You deserve the payments that you are now receiving.
Let me repeat that: Social Security is your retirement fund. Which you paid for.
Social Security is not on the brink of disaster. It is a highly successful program. And that is why anti-government extremists are always eyeing its coffers. Transforming, or, for some pundits, dismantling Social Security, would free up billions of dollars.
On August 14, 1935 -- 77 years ago -- President Franklin Roosevelt signed the law that made Social Security a reality.
Let's look at facts. According to the Social Security Administration, the Social Security Trust Fund today has a surplus of $2.7 trillion. It can pay 100 percent of all benefits owed to every eligible American over the next 21 years.
On Tuesday, Vice President Joe Biden issued a "guarantee" that he and President Obama would allow NO changes to Social Security.
"Number one, I guarantee you, flat guarantee you, there will be no changes in Social Security," Biden said. "I flat guarantee you."
The Republican presidential candidate, Mitt Romney, has what I consider to be very radical views.
For starters, look at his vice presidential pick. Paul Ryan, who wants to privatize Social Security. As the House Budget Committee Chairman, he wants to put your savings -- your retirement program - into sketchy Wall Street investments.
We have all seen what Wall Street ethics can do to hard-earned investments. We all know the untold billions of dollars "lost" in 401k retirement programs, thanks to the shenanigans of Wall Street "banksters" whose antics plunged our country into this disastrous Recession.
We cannot allow the same fate to befall Social Security. That outcome would be the truest definition of insanity.
Mitt Romney also wants to increase the retirement age - to 68 or 69. And he wants to install "means-testing" for benefits. That means slowing the pace of growth of benefits for seniors with "higher incomes." Anyone making $45,000 a year is defined as "higher income."
Does that sound like a "higher income" bracket to you?
That is how a privileged millionaire views Social Security. He will never have to rely on Social Security benefits, thanks to his wealth. And although he wants to reform the program, he hasn't given more specifics about his Social Security proposals.
But today, I can give you my specifics about Social Security. And I can give you a guarantee.
As the next U.S. Senator from Maine, I pledge to strengthen Social Security, not weaken it or make it less effective.
I also pledge to work with President Obama to protect Social Security from would-be budget raiders.
I pledge to ensure the availability of Social Security for every American whose life and well-being depend upon it. You have my word, my guarantee, on that.