Social Security – created as a safety net for working Americans – is anything but safe these days.
Two successive administrations have set their sights on this federal earned benefits program. It's been unfairly labeled a lavish entitlement, and it's been targeted as a source of easy money to fix the federal deficit. President George Bush tried to privatize the program — a plan NYSUT members helped defeat — and President Obama has appointed a special deficit-reduction commission whose members have been openly critical of Social Security and Medicare.
And that commission's recommendations could mean that working Americans who consider themselves too young to even think about Social Security could be paying down the federal deficit 20 and 30 years from now – with money that should be theirs.
That's why this year's 75th anniversary of the Social Security Act has special meaning for all NYSUT members, who are marking the occasion with a call to action under the theme, "Fix it; don't nix it." Loretta Donlon, NYSUT's director of Election District 51 and a member of the Governor's Advisory Committee on Aging, issued that call when she spoke at a recent ceremony declaring August as "Social Security Diamond Anniversary Month" to mark FDR's signing of the Social Security Act in 1935.
"NYSUT members are especially aware of the impact that Social Security has had — and continues to have — on every American," Donlon said. "NYSUT believes that FDR's contract with Americans must be maintained and that all Americans need to be vigilant in their efforts to keep Social Security on solid financial ground and to preserve it for generations to come."
The threat to Social Security is not just a concern for retirees, because Social Security as an all-ages protection plan for workers, said NYSUT Vice President Kathleen Donahue, who oversees retiree services for the union.
"If a worker dies while still raising a family, that worker's dependent children benefit from the parent's contributions to Social Security," Donahue noted. "This is not just a 'retiree program,' it's an 'all workers' program.' We need all NYSUT members to speak up in support of Social Security."