This past Tuesday, our nation celebrated the 77th anniversary of President Franklin Delano Roosevelt signing the Social Security Act of 1935, securing the retirement of generations of American seniors. Since its enactment, the program has never once failed to pay out, through thirteen recessions and 77 years. It is truly a bedrock of our society.
Unfortunately, for the second time in less than a decade, Social Security is under attack from the GOP. Even though it has never added to the deficit and its trust fund will have a 2.7 trillion dollar surplus by the end of this year, Republicans want to radically restructure the program.
The mastermind of the Republican plan is House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan, the newly-selected Vice-Presidential nominee on the GOP ticket. According to Social Security’s Chief Actuary, Ryan’s dubiously named “Path to Prosperity” will remove 4.9 trillion dollars from the program’s trust fund. In addition, it will reduce benefits for all future retirees and push the retirement age higher and higher.
And—possibly worst of all—Congressman Ryan is an outspoken proponent of the privatization of Social Security. He was back in 2005 and he still is now. Imagine if Social Security had been partially private in 2008—millions of Americans would have lost their retirement savings. The entire point of Social Security is that it is an irrevocable promise: workers pay in and when they are no longer working they receive benefits. There is no room for the high risk of privatization.
The Democratic Party and I will always defend Social Security. The program has sustained millions of Americans through good times and bad. It must be there for Americans now, tomorrow and in the years to come.