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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|
- 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
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:
Signers of the Statement of Principles
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