Tucson, Ariz.– After a months-long campaign to attract support for a letter to President Obama opposing Social Security cuts, Rep. Raúl M. Grijalva sent the letter with 136 signatures pledging to vote against any potential benefit cuts, privatization schemes or increases in the retirement age. The letter is available on Grijalva’s Web site, and the full text is below. The letter was also led by Reps. John Conyers and Dan Maffei.
“We’ve been saying for months that there’s simply no reason to cut Social Security, and now we see just how much support we have across the country,” Grijalva said. “The uninformed and misguided belief that it will reduce the deficit is dangerous for America’s current retirees, working families and students who will soon enter the workforce. Social Security is a fundamental compact between the governent and the American people, and it’s not on the negotiating table in this Congress or the next Congress.”
The number of signatories on the letter means that the president’s deficit commission, which is meeting in secret to plan ways to cut the budget deficit, will need a combination of Republicans and conservative Democrats in Congress if it wants to pass any Social Security reductions.
“Social Security is not a gift, it’s a fundamental part of our social fabric and national support network,” Grijalva said. “This is not something you can just turn off or tune out.”
As the Huffington Post reported yesterday, “On Friday it was announced that more than 58 million seniors and other Social Security recipients will see no inflation adjustment in their retirement and disability benefits for the second year in a row. There has been very little inflation over the past year and prices have remained flat.”
Grijalva is a co-sponsor of the Seniors Protection Act, which would send $250 payments to approximately 58 million seniors and veteran recipients as a response to the lack of adjustment.
The full text of the letter follows.
Dear Mr. President,
We write today to express our strong support for Social Security and our view that it should be strengthened. We oppose any cuts to Social Security benefits, including raising the retirement age. We also oppose any effort to privatize Social Security, in whole or in part.
You have charged the National Commission on Fiscal Responsibility and Reform with proposing recommendations that improve the long-term fiscal outlook and address the growth of entitlement spending. It is our view that Social Security—which is prohibited by law from adding to the national budget deficit—does not belong as part of those recommendations.
By 2023, Social Security will have built up a $4.3 trillion surplus, and, without any action, can pay full benefits until 2037 and at least 75 percent of all benefits thereafter. Because Social Security is funded separately from the general treasury and has no borrowing authority, it has not contributed to the federal deficit. Despite these facts, some Commission members have repeatedly alleged the need to cut Social Security for budgetary reasons.
For 75 years, Social Security has been a promise to the American people that if they work hard and pay their fair share, they will have a financially secure retirement. In communities across this country, Social Security benefits are often the only source of income helping families maintain a decent standard of living. Social Security’s benefits are modest, averaging less than $13,000 a year, but they are vital to the vast majority of Americans who receive them.
Cutting Social Security benefits beyond the already scheduled increase in the retirement age from 65 to 67 would create even more needless hardship for millions of vulnerable Americans. This is especially true in the face of an economic downturn that has wiped out trillions of dollars that Americans were relying on for their retirement security and the increased dismantlement of the private and public pension systems.
If any of the Commission’s recommendations cut or diminish Social Security in any way, we will stand firmly against them. We urge you to join us in protecting and strengthening Social Security rather than letting it fall victim to a misguided attempt to reduce budget deficits on the backs of working families.