Letter to the Senate on Social Security
March 28, 2011
On behalf of the 3.2 million members of the National Education Association (NEA), we urge you to VOTE YES on the Sanders-Reid Social Security Protection Amendment to the Small Business Reauthorization Act. This important amendment would express the Sense of the Senate that Social Security benefits should not be cut or privatized as part of any deficit reduction legislation. Votes associated with this issue may be included in the NEA Legislative Report Card for the 112th Congress.
Ensuring great public schools for every student requires attracting and retaining the highest quality educators. Many educators enter the profession knowing they will make financial sacrifices, but they count on a secure retirement. Cuts to Social Security will undermine retirement security and make it harder to retain the best educators for students.
Social Security is the cornerstone of economic security for nearly 54 million Americans. It belongs to the people who have worked hard all their lives, contributed to the program, and relied on the promise that they and their family will be able to collect benefits when they retire, experience a severe disability, or die. Even though the benefits are modest — averaging $14,000 a year — they represent more than half the income for six out of ten recipients.
Cuts to Social Security would fall disproportionately on low-income individuals, particularly women and people of color, many of whom depend on Social Security and Medicare just to make ends meet. Raising the retirement age would discriminate against older workers, who are more likely to be in physically demanding jobs, have more health problems and cannot find or keep work due to job discrimination, lack of job availability or other reasons.
Cutting Social Security or subjecting it to risky privatization schemes is misguided and unnecessary public policy. Social Security did not cause our economic problems. It has not contributed one dime to the federal deficit and actually has a surplus of $2.6 trillion today. Fiscal discipline is needed, but not at the expense of our nation’s most vulnerable populations.
Finally, we would like to point out that Congress has failed for years to address the unfair Government Pension Offset and Windfall Elimination Provision, which take away Social Security benefits earned by hundreds of thousands of educators and other public employees. Cutting Social Security would add insult to injury — further penalizing these dedicated public servants and undermining a secure retirement for millions of hard-working Americans.
We urge you to stand up for America’ working families by voting yes on the Sanders-Reid amendment.
Director of Government Relations
Manager of Federal Advocacy