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1/08/2005

White House: Cut Social Security Benefits

The AFL-CIO is reporting a secret White House memo confirms what advocates for working families have known all along: President George W. Bush plans to drastically cut future Social Security benefits.

On Jan. 3, White House official Peter Wehner sent an e-mail to Republican opinion leaders calling for change in the way guaranteed benefits are calculated that would cut payments nearly in half for today’s young workers when they retire.

The benefit cuts are part of Bush’s plan to privatize Social Security, the nation’s most successful family protection program.

The confidential memo called for freezing the standard of living for retirees by pegging Social Security benefits to the increase in prices rather than wages. Because wages rise faster than prices, this would slash the amount of Social Security benefits retirees would receive. Under this formula, a person retiring at age 65 in 2075 would see a 46 percent smaller benefit than under the current system.

“Seniors will be hurt by benefit reductions and private accounts. So, too, will our children and grandchildren,” says George Kourpias, president of the Alliance for Retired Americans, a grassroots activist group for seniors. “It’s our job to fight to protect, preserve and pass on Social Security.”

More than two years ago, in June 2002, analysts warned Bush’s privatization plan would mean large benefit cuts. The Century Foundation and the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities calculated that workers retiring in 2066 would face a 41 percent cut in benefits if Bush’s plan were implemented.

“The Bush administration has finally acknowledged that the centerpiece of its plan to radically overhaul Social Security is a benefit cut of more than 40 percent in the coming decades for every American senior,” says House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.).




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