Last week the Wisconsin Alliance for Retired Americans (WI ARA) celebrated the 75th Birthday of Social Security. Events were held around the state in Kenosha, Madison, Milwaukee, Eau Claire, and Green Bay.
The birthday celebrations centered on a recent report put out by advocacy groups Social Security Works and Strengthen Social Security. “Social Security Works for Wisconsin” provides a clear picture of how important the program is to our communities and our economy.
According to the report:
- Social Security provides benefits to more than 1,000,800 Wisconsin residents, nearly 1 out of 6 people living in the state. (17.9 percent).
- Social Security lifts 372,000 Wisconsin residents out of poverty.
- Wisconsin residents receive Social Security benefits totaling over $13.2 billion per year, an amount equivalent to 5.5 percent of the state’s annual GDP (the total value of all goods and services produced).
The report clears up many misconceptions on Social Security and highlights its importance to citizens and families around the country. According to Billy Feitlinger, Executive Director of the WI ARA, “Fifteen percent of the people in this country today under the age of 18 would be in poverty without social security.”
Although some in Washington, including a new federal commission on deficit reduction, have recently suggested cutting Social Security benefits or raising the retirement age as a way to “fix” the deficit. It is clear that the Wisconsin community thinks differently.
The 75th Birthday Parties highlighted the fact that Social Security has enough money to cover full benefits for another 30 years, and has not contributed one cent to the nation’s budget problems.
Wisconsin Alliance for Retired Americans President Leon Burzynski said, “America’s Social Security trust fund was built up in the 1980’s in preparation for the retirement of the baby boomers. However, the government has been borrowing from the trust fund for decades to pay for other federal programs. Currently, the federal government owes Social Security over $2.6 trillion.”
The Congressional Budget Office (CBO), an independent non-partisan federal department, reported in 2009, that most of the current and future federal deficit is caused by 2 wars, double digit increases to health care, enacting President Bush’s tax cuts, and the worst recession since the Great Depression.
In 2009, the CBO reported that Social Security will remain solvent through 2043 and that by 2020, it will have a surplus of over $3.8 trillion dollars.
“With more than 53 million people receiving Social Security benefits today, the program touches virtually every American family,” Burzynski said. “So beyond the candles and the cake, we have a very serious message to members of the Wisconsin Congressional delegation—that Social Security is vital to the economic well being of citizens in Wisconsin and our country. In Wisconsin over 1 million people rely on Social Security.”
The birthday celebrations were a fun way for the community to come together in support of Social Security. The events received statewide media coverage, and a few examples are listed below :
The Wisconsin Radio Network, which syndicates news to over 100 radio stations, had this to report:
WEAU NBC channel 13 in Eau Claire covered the story for their nightly news:
And Workers Independent News, which syndicates stories to radio stations nationally and has a widely distributed podcast, debunked the myth that social security is in financial trouble:
(Top Center Photo: WI ARA volunteers collect signatures on a petition to protect Social Security. Bottom Left Photo: WI ARA President Leon Burzynski. Photo Credit for both photos: Sheila Cochran and Jenissee Volpintesta. For more pictures of the 75th Anniversary of Social Security event at the WI State Fair, visit: http://www.flickr.com/photos/wisaflcio/sets/72157624725783296/ .)