Attacks on Social Security mean growing poverty for retirees, elderly

The Obama administration is proposing Social Security cuts totaling more than $127 billion over the next decade. Congress and politicians have been bought off, protecting their wealthy pals at the expense of average workers. They want to cut our social safety nets and our rights.

When the Social Security Act was passed in 1935, there was opposition to it by those who called it “socialist.” And they questioned whether it was constitutional. Many elected officials today are looking for ways to cut back on Social Security, claiming it adds to the federal government’s deficit. But the reality is that the program does not.

Congress is refusing to raise taxes by 2 percent on the rich, which would require them to pay their fair share under bourgeois legality. Instead, they’re requiring working and poor families to bear the brunt of unnecessary cutbacks in order to pay down the country’s deficit.

The consumer price index (CPI) is deceptively portrayed by the administration as a reasonable cost-of-living adjustment which would reduce the federal budget deficit. But the CPI is actually a cut in Social Security benefits. Austerity measures cut federal government spending by billions. But by cutting back on programs and services to the poor and sick, people are left without health care, medication and money.

The majority of people in the U.S.,, 90 percent, are against cutting Social Security and Medicare benefits. Programs like Social Security, disability benefits for veterans, Medicare and Medicaid make it possible for millions of people to live more fully.

Without Social Security, more than 20 million retired workers would be made poor or poorer. According to the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, seniors in states with the highest percentage of people age 65 and over would live in poverty were it not for Social Security: 55 percent in Arkansas, 54.8 percent in Mississippi, 54.8 percent in Tennessee, 52.8 percent in Georgia, 51.9 percent in South Carolina, 51.8 percent in West Virginia, 51.4 percent in Kentucky, 50.9 percent in North Carolina, 50.3 percent in Louisiana and 50.1 percent in Montana.

In addition, some seniors have no pensions to supplement their income. In 2011, poverty thresholds were $10,788 for seniors.

We need to fight to protect Social Security. And we’ve got to organize to win that fight in order to retain our benefits after and during retirement.

Cox is a retiree and a member of the American Federation of State, County, and Municipal Employees.