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DECEMBER 3, 1998   10:00 AM
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
CONTACT: New Century Alliance for Social Security
Erik Cole (202) 955-5665
 
Leaders of citizen groups unite to launch New Century Alliance to fight for Social Security; Civil Rights, Women, Labor, Senior, Disability, Religious, and Youth Leaders Release Principles for Social Security's Future
 
WASHINGTON - December 3 - Pledging that the debate about the future of Social Security will no longer be dominated by "those who would dismantle the system while claiming to save it," a large number of citizen leaders today launched the New Century Alliance for Social Security. The Alliance is an educational campaign organized around a Statement of Principles for Social Security's Future endorsed by over 170 prominent heads of citizen organizations and by well-known public policy experts. Standing side by side at a press conference announcing the new effort, leaders representing young people and seniors, labor and women's organizations, civil rights and disability rights groups and national church organizations vowed to work together to protect Social Security from schemes that "privatize" America's retirement system by reducing guaranteed benefits to fund private investment accounts.

Speakers at today's press conference – among them Kweisi Mfume of the NAACP, John Sweeney, President of the AFL-CIO, Patricia Ireland of the National Organization for Women, Rev. Jesse L. Jackson of the Rainbow/PUSH Coalition, and disability rights activist Justin Dart, Jr. – called Social Security America’s most successful retirement security and anti-poverty program. And each of them described their plans to broaden the debate about Social Security's future to include those Americans who would be most affected by proposed changes proposed by a variety of conservative think tanks and commissions.

"The authors of every plan out there claim their plan will "save" social security," said Roger Hickey, Co-Director of the Institute for America’s Future, and principal organizer of the New Century Alliance. "We say that if a plan can't meet these principles we release here today, it doesn't really save Social Security," he declared. "We intend to take these principles to the Congress, to the upcoming White House conference on Social Security, and – most importantly – to the grass roots members of the organizations and the constituencies we represent."

Many of the endorsers of the New Century Alliance are invited to participate in the White House Conference on Social Security to be convened by President Clinton next week. They indicated their intention to take their Statement of Principles to that meeting and to other discussions inside the beltway. But they placed equal emphasis on educating and empowering citizens around the country to demand that their views be heard by the policy-makers.

Speakers at the event elaborated on different ways citizen groups are gearing up for a long campaign to protect Social Security. They unveiled plans to replicate the national alliance of leaders in every community across the country, united around the same set of principles. In the planning stage are "Community Summits on Social Security," bringing together local citizens organizations, labor activists, women’s groups, NAACP chapters, and senior groups. The New Century Alliance sees these grassroots efforts as essential to counteracting the vast funding of Wall Street-backed pro-privatization forces.

The citizen leaders involved in the effort represent a cross-section of Americans. The constituencies of many of these groups are credited with aiding the Democratic party’s impressive showing in last month’s election.

"The speakers today represented large numbers of people across the country who depend on the Social Security system and will fight to defend it from the threat of privatization," pronounced Hickey.

The Alliance stands strongly against plans that would cut benefits, raise the retirement age, or divert Social Security tax revenues to pay for private investment accounts.

The Principles state "that Social Security’s central role in family income protection must not be compromised" and that any reform plan must meet the nine principles. Social Security should remain universal and portable; survivors insurance for spouses and children should be protected; and benefits for people with disabilities should be maintained. Further, Social Security’s progressive benefit structure should be strengthened, not scrapped. Particularly for low income groups and women, Social Security must continue to provide a critical foundation for retirement.

Emphasizing the importance of strengthening Social Security in today's new economy, Hickey noted, "We are serious about the New Century part of the name. We believe that, as we make the difficult transition to a new globalized and information-based economy, the economic conditions which confront most Americans require that we find ways to provide more social insurance and more economic security, not less."


The New Century Alliance for Social Security is an alliance of concerned citizen leaders and policy experts who have signed a Statement of Principles for Social Security’s Future. They are united in the belief that Social Security should be strengthened, not dismantled.

The Institute for America's Future is a center for progressive research and education founded by over a hundred prominent Americans to make the economy work for working people. The Institute is co-directed by Robert L. Borosage and Roger Hickey.

###

A Statement of Principles
for a
New Century Alliance
for Social Security

Social Security is vital to millions of Americans. For over sixty years Social Security’s retirement, disability and survivors benefits have kept generations of people out of poverty and provided a secure base for middle class retirement. Most Americans will depend upon its portable, progressive and guaranteed retirement benefits and its social insurance protections to provide at least half of their income. We must all work to ensure that Americans of all ages will continue to be protected by Social Security from serious loss of income because of old age, disability or the death of a family’s wage earner.

Congress and the President should work to strengthen the finances of Social Security for future generations. "Privatization" proposals to shift a portion of Social Security taxes to private investment accounts would inevitably require large cuts in Social Security’s defined benefits and make retirement income overly dependent on the risks of the stock and bond markets.

We join together to insist that Social Security’s central role in family income protection must not be compromised, and we endorse the following principles for Social Security reform:

  • Social Security’s benefit structure should remain universal and portable, guaranteeing monthly benefits that provide a decent income and are adjusted to keep up with inflation for as long as you live.

  • Social Security must continue to provide risk-free disability insurance protection for workers and their dependents. It must also continue to provide survivors insurance for spouses and children of deceased workers, as well as continuing to provide benefits for those adults with severe disabilities who are dependents or survivors of their parents. These crucial insurance functions must continue without harmful benefit reductions.

  • Beneficiaries who earned higher wages during their worklife should continue to receive benefits related to their earnings history, and Social Security should continue to replace a larger share of low-income workers’ past earnings as a protection against poverty.

  • We must take care that the impact of changes in the Social Security system not fall disproportionately on lower income groups, or on those whose worklife has been physically demanding. Any changes should not make the financing of Social Security any less progressive.

  • Many privatization proposals finance the cost of private accounts partly by increasing the retirement age. Raising the age at which people can collect benefits is the equivalent of a benefit cut, with especially onerous impacts on those in physically challenging jobs or on groups with lower life expectancy.

  • Basic benefit protections for women - who have lower lifetime earnings and more workforce absences because of care giving for children, parents or spouses - should be preserved and strengthened.

  • While Social Security should continue as the foundation of our social insurance and retirement system, we also need new policies to encourage employers to provide good pensions and to spur private savings. But this should be done in addition to, rather than at the expense of, the existing Social Security benefit structure.

  • Private accounts should not be substituted for Social Security’s current defined benefits. Diversion of Social Security tax revenues to pay for private investment accounts makes the projected long term Social Security financing problems more severe, forcing deep benefit cuts, such as large increases in the retirement age, and weakens the system’s ability to follow the principles above. Social Security benefits should not be subject to market fluctuations.

  • We should save Social Security first, instead of using budget surpluses to pay for tax cuts.

Signers of the Statement of Principles
of

The New Century Alliance for Social Security

Hans Riemer
Director
2030 Center

Norman Hill
President
A. Philip Randolph Institute

John Rother
Dir. of Legislation and Public Policy
AARP

Steve Kest
Executive Director
ACORN

John J. Sweeney
President
AFL-CIO

Norman Lear
Act III Communications

Mike Farrell
Actor, Producer

Edith Fierst
Advisory Council on Social Security, 1994-96

Janice Weinman
Executive Director
American Association of University Women

Bobby L. Harnage, Sr.
National President
American Federation of Government Employees

Gerald W. McEntee
President
American Federation of State County and Municipal Employees

Sandra Feldman
President
American Federation of Teachers

Richard Foltin
Legislative Director and Counsel
American Jewish Committee

Joni Fritz
Executive Director
American Network of Community Options and Resources

Moe Biller
President
American Postal Workers Union

Robert Kuttner
Co-Editor
American Prospect

Amy Isaacs
National Director
Americans for Democratic Action

Alicia Munnell
former member, Clinton Council of Economic Advisers
Boston College

John B. Williamson
Professor of Sociology
Boston College

Robert Reich
former Secretary of Labor
Brandeis University

James H. Schulz
Professor of Economics & Kirstein Professor of Aging Policy
Brandeis University

John G. Guffey
President
Calvert Social Investment Foundation

Roger Hickey
Co-Director
Campaign/Institute for America's Future

Sharon Daly
Vice-President for Social Policy
Catholic Charities USA

Msgr. George Higgins
Catholic University of America

Alan W. Houseman
Executive Director
Center for Law & Social Policy

Linda Tarr-Whelan
President
Center for Policy Alternatives

Leslie R. Wolfe
President
Center for Women's Policy Studies

Rev. James E. Hug, SJ
Executive Director
Center of Concern

Robert Greenstein
Executive Director
Center on Budget and Policy Priorities

Wendell Primus
former Deputy Assistant Secretary for Human Services Policy
Center on Budget and Policy Priorities

David Liederman
Executive Director
Child Welfare League of America

Marian Wright Edelman
President
Children's Defense Fund

Kay Hollestelle
Executive Director
Children's Foundation

Ann K. Delorey
Legislative Director
Church Women United

Richard Kirsch
Executive Director
Citizen Action of New York

Gloria Johnson
National President
Coalition of Labor Union Women

Stuart Campbell
Executive Director
Coalition on Human Needs

Charles Knight
President
Commonwealth Institute

Morton Bahr
President
Communication Workers of America

Jerome Grossman
Chairman
Council for a Livable World

David Langer
President
David Langer Co. Actuaries

Kelly Young
Executive Director
Democrats 2000

Amy L. Domini
Managing Principal
Domini Social Investments

Thomas J. Downey
former Member of Congress (NY)
Downey Chandler, Inc.

Jeff Faux
President
Economic Policy Institute

Dean Baker
Economist
Economic Policy Institute

Ken Cook
President
Environmental Working Group

Michael McCloskey
Environmentalist

Ron Pollack
Executive Director
Families USA Foundation

Eleanor Smeal
President
Feminist Majority

Tom Schlesinger
Executive Director
Financial Markets Center

Sumner Rosen
Director
Five Boroughs Institute

Msgr. Charles Fahey
Third Age Center
Fordham University

Ruth Messinger
Former Manhattan Borough President

Berkley Bedell
Former Member of Congress (IA)

Ned Stowe
Legislative Secretary
Friends Committee On National Legislation

Brent Blackwelder
President
Friends of the Earth

Roger Wilkins
George Mason University

Amitai Etzioni
Communitarian Network
George Washington University

Peter Edelman
Professor
Georgetown Law Center

Tim Fuller
Executive Director
Gray Panthers

Rabbi Michael Feinberg
Executive Director
Greater NY Labor-Religion Coalition

Elaine Bernard
Director, Trade Union Program
Harvard University

James Medoff
Professor of Economics
Harvard University

Michael Sandel
Professor of Government
Harvard University

Juliet Schor
Senior Lecturer
Harvard University

Theda Skocpol
Prof. Govt and Sociology
Harvard University

William Julius Wilson
Professor
Harvard University

Jack O'Connell
Executive Director
Health & Welfare Council of Long Island

Mimi Abramovitz
Professor of Social Policy
Hunter School of Social Work

Heidi Hartmann
Director
Institute for Women's Policy Research

Clavin Fields
Director
Institute of Gerontology, UDC

Timothy Smith
Executive Director
Interfaith Center on Corporate Responsibility

Thomas Buffenbarger
International President
International Association of Machinists

Stephen Viederman
President
Jessie Smith Noyes Foundation

Bert Seidman
Vice-President & Washington Rep.
Jewish Labor Committee

Fred Azcarate
Director
Jobs with Justice

Rev. Peter Laarman
Senior Minister
Judson Memorial Church

Justin Dart
Co-founder
Justice for All

Peter D. Kinder
President
Kinder, Lydenberg, Domini & Co.

John Mueller
Economist
Lehrman Bell Mueller Cannon

Rev. Robert L. Pierce
Former Executive Director
Long Island Council of Churches

Rev. Russell Siler
Director
Lutheran Office for Governmental Affairs, ELCA

Peter Diamond
Professor of Economics
MIT

Richard Medley
Medley Global Advisors, L.L.C.

Jackie Kendall
Executive Director
Midwest Academy

Heather Booth
Midwest Academy, Founder

Julian Bond
Board Chair
NAACP

Kweisi Mfume
President & CEO
NAACP

Kathy Thornton RSM
National Coordinator
NETWORK: National Catholic Social Justice Lobby

Eleanor Litwak
President
NY State Council of Senior Citizens

Robert Ball
Founding Chair
National Academy of Social Insurance

Jean Daniel
Policy Director
National Association of Area Agencies on Aging

Toby Weismiller
Director of Advocacy
National Association of Social Workers

Samuel Simmons
President
National Caucus and Center on Black Aged

Susan Bianchi-Sand
Executive Director
National Committee on Pay Equity Chair

National Council of Women's Organizations

Max Richtman
Executive Vice President
National Committee to Preserve Social Security and Medicare

Rev. Dr. Joan Brown Campbell
General Secretary
National Council of Churches of Christ, USA

Raul Yzaguirre
President
National Council of La Raza

Dr. Jane Smith
President & CEO
National Council of Negro Women

Steve Protulis
Executive Director
National Council of Senior Citizens

Michael Beattie
Founder and Executive Director
National Council of Students with Disabilities

Gertrude S. Goldberg
Chair
National Jobs for All Coalition

Curtis W. Ramsey-Lucas
Director of Legislative Advocacy
National Ministries, American Baptist Churches USA

Loretta Putnam
National Multiple Sclerosis Society

Patricia Ireland
President
National Organization for Women

Bente E. Cooney
Director of Public Policy
National Osteoporosis Foundation

Patricia M. Smith
National Parent Network on Disabilities

Donna Lenhoff
General Counsel
National Partnership for Women and Families

Dr. C. Delores Tucker
National Chair and Founder
National Political Congress of Black Women

Burton D. Fretz
Executive Director
National Senior Citizens Law Center

Hugh Price
President
National Urban League

Nancy Duff Campbell
Co-President
National Women's Law Center

Anthony Wright
Program Director
New Jersey Citizen Action

Sen. Fred R. Harris
State Chair
New Mexico Democratic Party

Stanley Sheinbaum
Publisher
New Perspectives Quarterly

Barney Olmsted and Suzanne Smith
Co-Directors
New Ways to Work

Edward Wolff
Professor of Economics
New York University

Marc Caplan
Northeast Action

Rev. Robert J. Wilde
President of Board
Northside Common Ministries

Robert Wages
President
Oil Chemical and Atomic Workers

Deborah Briceland-Betts
Executive Director
Older Women's League

Charles Sheketoff
Executive Director
Oregon Center for Public Policy

Karen Ferguson
Executive Director
Pension Rights Center

Mike Lux
Senior Vice-President for Political Action
People for the American Way

Mark Weisbrot
Research Director
Preamble Center

Herb Gunther
Executive Director
Public Media Center

Rev. Jesse L. Jackson, Sr.
President
Rainbow/PUSH Coalition

Sheara Cohen
Rural Organizing Project

Philip Harvey
Associate Professor
Rutgers School of Law

Dr. Joel Blau
School of Social Welfare
S.U.N.Y.

Andrew Stern
President
Service Employees International Union

Robert Myers
Retired Chief Actuary
Social Security Administration

Martin Carnoy
Professor of Educ. & Economics
Stanford University

Eric Kingson
Professor
Syracuse University

Paul Marchand
Director of Government Affairs
The Arc
Chair

Consortium for Citizens with Disabilities

Harriet Barlow
Director
The Blue Mountain Center

Richard Leone
President
The Century Foundation

Vivien Labaton
Co-Director
Third Wave Foundation

Tom McCormack
Title II Community -AIDS National Network

Joseph White
School of Health and Tropical Medicine
Tulane University

Jay Mazur
President
UNITE!

Stephen P. Yokich
President
United Auto Workers

Pat Conover
Office for Church in Society
United Church of Christ

Douglas H. Dority
President
United Food and Commercial Workers

Jane Hull Harvey
General Board of Church and Society
United Methodist Church

Bishop Felton Edwin May
Washington Episcopal Office
United Methodist Church

Anthony Samu
President
United States Student Association

George Becker
President
United Steelworkers of America

Chuck Collins
Co-Director
United for a Fair Economy

Robert Pollin
Prof. of Economics
University of Mass-Amherst

Eugene Feingold
Professor Emeritus
University of Michigan

Martha Byam
Instructor
University of New Hampshire

Teresa Ghilarducci
Economics Department
University of Notre Dame

Arlene Stein
Sociology Department
University of Oregon

James K. Galbraith
Professor of Economics
University of Texas

Ray Marshall
former Secretary of Labor
University of Texas

Nelson Lichtenstein
Professor of History
University of Virginia

Donald E. Wightman
President
Utility Workers Union of America

Susan Shaer
Executive Director
WAND - Women's Action for New Direction

Merton C. Bernstein
Coles Professor of Law, Emeritus
Washington Univ. in St. Louis

Doug Fraser
Former President, UAW
Wayne State University

Larry Marx
Executive Director
Wisconsin Citizen Action

Rep. Nan Grogan Orrock (GA)
President
Women Legislators' Lobby

Anna Rhee
Executive Secretary for Public Policy
Women's Division, United Methodist Church

Peter Barnes
Co-Founder
Working Assets

Deborah Kaplan
Executive Director
World Institute on Disability

Theodore R. Marmor
Professor of Public Policy and Political Science
Yale School of Management

 

 
 

 

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