Leaders Celebrate Social Security’s 75th Birthday

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On the heels of Paul Ryan’s much-maligned plan to make middle class families pay for tax cuts for the top one percent, leaders from across Wisconsin are taking time to celebrate the historic 75th anniversary of the Social Security — among America’s greatest investments in our nation’s proud history.

The details, courtesy of the participants:

On Tuesday, August 10th members of the Wisconsin Alliance for Retired Americans (WIARA) hosted a party to celebrate the 75th birthday of Social Security at the Madison Senior Center.   Party-goers praised Social Security as America’s most successful government program.  Sponsors of the event included the National Committee to Preserve Social Security and Medicare, AARP, the Coalition of Wisconsin Aging Groups, and the Wisconsin State AFL-CIO.

Besides sharing a cake, speakers discussed the importance of Social Security and the modest adjustments needed to have it remain solvent for future generations.  Similar events are occurring around the state and across the country this week in order to defend the program from proposed cuts.

The center piece of the event was a new report prepared by the advocacy groups Social Security Works and Strengthen Social Security.  “Social Security Works for Wisconsin” provides a clear picture of how important the program is to our communities and our economy.

According to the report:

· Social Security provides benefits to more than 1,000,800 Wisconsin residents, nearly 1 out of 6 people living in the state. (17.9 percent).

· Social Security lifts 372,000 Wisconsin residents out of poverty.

· Wisconsin residents receive Social Security benefits totaling over $13.2 billion per year, an amount equivalent to 5.5 percent of the state’s annual GDP (the total value of all goods and services produced).

“Social Security Works for Wisconsin” also gives a detailed breakdown of how retirees, women, the disabled, widows and widowers, children, African Americans, and working families benefit from the Social Security safety net.  For a full copy of the report, contact Billy Feitlinger at (608) 239-5384.

Some in Washington, including a new federal commission on deficit reduction, have recently suggested cutting Social Security benefits by privatizing it or raising the retirement age as a way to “fix” the deficit.

The 75th Birthday Party in Madison highlighted the fact that Social Security has enough money to cover full benefits for another 30 years, and has not contributed one cent to the nation’s budget problems.

Wisconsin Alliance for Retired Americans President Leon Burzynski said, “America’s Social Security trust fund was built up in the 1980’s in preparation for the retirement of the baby boomers. However, the government has been borrowing from the trust fund for decades to pay for other federal programs. Currently, the federal government owes Social Security over $2.6 trillion.”

The Congressional Budget Office (CBO), an independent non-partisan federal department, reported in 2009, that most of the current and future federal deficit is caused by 2 wars, double digit increases to health care, enacting President Bush’s tax cuts, and the worst recession since the Great Depression.

In 2009, the CBO reported that Social Security will remain solvent through 2043 and that by 2020, it will have a surplus of over $3.8 trillion dollars.

“With more than 53 million people receiving Social Security benefits today, the program touches virtually every American family,” Burzynski said.  “So beyond the candles and the cake, we have a very serious message to members of the Wisconsin Congressional delegation—that Social Security is vital to the economic well being of citizens in Wisconsin and our country.  In Wisconsin over 1 million people rely on Social Security.”

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Scot Ross served as Executive Director of One Wisconsin Now & the Institute from 2007 to 2019.