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Social Security Privatization Jeopardizes Survivor Benefits

Location: Washington, DC

Social Security Privatization Jeopardizes Survivor Benefits

It is a clear sign of a bad idea that the more people know about the idea, the less they like it. That is why about 60 percent of Americans now believe that the President's plan to privatize Social Security is a bad idea, and why the number of Americans opposing privatization has steadily risen in recent months.

As people have learned more and more about the plan, they have liked it less and less. Much to the dismay of the privatizers, as the truth about the President's flawed plan continues to come out, it is becoming more difficult for anyone to claim with a straight face that the plan will not cut benefits and hurt the people who rely on Social Security.

In fact, just last week, another stunning fact about the privatization plan became clear as the President's Chief Economic Advisor, Allan Hubbard, the Chairman of the National Economic Council, admitted what many of us have been saying all along: not only would the President's privatization plan cut retiree benefits, but it would also cut survivor benefits and possibly disability benefits.

This aspect of the privatization debate is less well publicized, but it could be no less devastating to Americans who depend on Social Security.

Usually, when one thinks of Social Security, one thinks of retired people. But Social Security is also specifically designed to protect families who have lost a loved one and disabled Americans by providing basic income security. Today, Social Security provides monthly benefits to nearly 7 million spouses and children nationwide who have lost a parent, and almost 8 million Americans with disabilities.

In Maine, these numbers are no less compelling. Over 33,000 people currently depend on Social Security survivor benefits, and another 54,000 people receive benefits for disability. This is vital support that allows people who face the challenge of disability or death in the family to make ends meet.

The fact that the privatization scheme would cause deep benefit cuts for middle-class retirees is bad enough, but undermining millions of families after the death of a loved one or after being struck with a disability is just plain wrong.

This is just another example of how thin the rhetoric about Social Security privatization really is. Underneath the pleasant-sounding words from the supporters of privatization, the real details of the plan end up hurting real people. Borrowing $5 trillion over the next twenty years to privatize the system, cut everyone's retiree benefits, cut support for widows and the disabled, and destroy the promise that everyone's retirement can be secure is simply a terrible deal for the American people.

Rather than recklessly cut benefits, the best way to help Social Security is to return to a path of fiscal responsibility and return our budget to balance. By getting our national budget in order, we can secure Social Security's long term funding without these kinds of devastating cuts to the people who can least afford it.

I am committed to working cooperatively and on a bipartisan basis to find ways to strengthen the long term solvency of Social Security. I will continue to oppose any plan to privatize the system. And I will remain committed to protecting the real security that survivor and disability support provides.

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