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Civil Rights, Women's Rights, Economic Justice: The Promise of Expanding Social Security

Statement

Today Social Security Subcommittee Chairman John Larson was joined by the Tri-Caucus Members of the Ways and Means Committee to drive home the importance of action on Social Security now. Reps. John Lewis, Linda Sanchez, and Judy Chu touted the importance of Social Security as the nation's leading insurance program and number one anti-poverty program; highlighted Social Security as a civil rights and women's rights issue; and praised its profound economic impact. They also called for passage of Social Security 2100 Act. Joining the members were leaders from the NAACP, NOW, and Latinos for a Secure Retirement.

"I grew up in rural Alabama, 50 miles from Montgomery, outside a little town called Troy, and I remember how seniors lived before they had Social Security. Most of the seniors in my district in Georgia depend on Social Security for the majority of their income. Without it almost half of Black and Latino seniors in this country would be living in poverty. That's not right, that's not fair, and it's not just. Social Security is more than a right, it is a promise. A promise people paid into to secure their future. We can do better, we can do much better. The Social Security 2100 Act will keep that promise and it frees Americans young and old to fulfill their dreams," said Rep. John Lewis.

"As the bedrock of our retirement system, Social Security allows Americans to retire without fear of falling into poverty," Rep. Linda Sánchez said. "Still, many seniors, especially Latinos and people of color, rely on Social Security for most of their retirement income. Despite the program's success, benefits do not effectively keep up with the rising costs of living facing elderly Americans, such as housing and prescription drugs. We urge our colleagues to join us in this effort to strengthen and expand Social Security because our seniors deserve to retire with dignity."

"Generations of Americans have paid into social security with the expectation that it will be there for them when they retire. It is a promise to Americans that a lifetime of work should not end in a retirement in poverty. But over time, that promise has been weakened. This is particularly troubling for low-income Americans, including older Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders (AAPIs), who despite the model minority myth, are the group most reliant on social security when they're older. That's why it's essential that we act today to ensure Social Security is still available tomorrow. And that starts with the Social Security 2100 Act, which increases benefits, cuts taxes, and ensures that a minimum benefit above the poverty line will remain available. I'm proud to be joining with Rep. Larson and other colleagues to support this important bill," said Rep. Judy Chu.

"The time to protect and expand Social Security is now. Many Americans, especially the communities served and represented by the NAACP, depend on Social Security benefits to survive. Social Security retirement, disability, and survivors' benefits are all crucial to people of color who tend to have fewer alternative resources, become disabled at higher rates, and disproportionately, because our life expectancy is shorter, our families rely more on Social Security's survivors benefits," said Hilary Shelton, Director to the NAACP's Washington Bureau / Senior Vice President for Advocacy and Policy.

"Since the early 1970s, the National Organization for Women has spoken out for improvements to Social Security that would further diminish poverty among older women and women in low-income jobs and adjust the system to recognize changing demographics," said NOW president Toni Van Pelt. "Rep. John Larson's bill, the Social Security 2100 Act would improve benefits equitably for all, assures that millionaires and billionaires pay their fair share, and would guarantee the solvency of our nation's most prized social insurance program for the rest of this century. Congress must act to address this nation's retirement crisis and Rep. Larson's bill is a solid step in the right direction."

"We join our efforts today because the struggle against racial inequality follows many Black and Latino Americans into retirement. Currently, nearly 20 percent of Black and Latino adults over the age of 65 are living under the poverty line, in their respective communities" said Abigail Zapote, Executive Director of Latinos for a Secure Retirement.

"Social Security is not only a seniors issue, it is a civil rights, women's rights and economic justice issue. Strengthening and expanding Social Security will ensure that everyone who has worked their whole life can retire in dignity. It will help even the playing field for women and people of color, who are often paid less throughout their working careers due to societal discriminations. I am proud to stand here today with Reps. Lewis, Sanchez and Chu, the NAACP, NOW, and Latinos for a Secure Retirement to urge the passage of the Social Security 2100 Act. We cannot wait any longer," said Chairman Larson.

"Right now, our nation's core retirement system is lurching towards insolvency. Unless aggressive steps are taken, the Social Security trust fund must draw down assets next year and benefits cuts could be on the horizon," said Rep. Pascrell. "Social Security lifts more Americans out of poverty than any other federal program -- 21 million each year, including 15 million age 65 and older. And Social Security is not just a source of retirement income -- it is also an economic stimulus to communities where beneficiaries live and spend dollars locally. I am proud to be an original cosponsor of the Chairman's Social Security 2100 legislation because it is a responsible plan to keep our system solvent through this century."

Rep. Dwight Evans said, "In Philadelphia, where there's a 26 percent poverty rate -- residents can't afford a cut to Social Security! About 1 in every 6 people in my district - nearly 125,000 people - rely on Social Security to put food on the table, keep the lights on, and pay for unexpected medical expenses. A 25 percent cut to Social Security would devastate hundreds of thousands of Philadelphians, as well as our local & national economy. But Social Security 2100 would SAVE Social Security -- it's one of the best poverty-busters we have!"


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