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McCarthy Reflects on Social Security’s 76th Birthday

Congresswoman says she'll continue to protect the most vulnerable Americans from "misguided attacks on their well-being and their ability to contribute to the nation’s economy."

Rep. Carolyn McCarthy, D-Mineola, who is fighting to protect Social Security beneficiaries from cuts proposed by some members of the House Republican Majority, marked Social Security’s 76th anniversary by reaffirming her support for the program and its beneficiaries. She issued the following statement/op-ed:

If you had a good friend who has dutifully been there for you and your family and your neighbors for her entire life, and she was having her 76th birthday, how would you celebrate?

On Aug. 14, 1935, President Franklin D. Roosevelt signed the Social Security Act into law, creating the safety net that’s helped millions of retired and disabled Americans stay out of poverty and contribute to the economy for several generations now.

It’s a program that relies on the most American of values: you work hard all your life, you pay into the system by setting a little bit of money aside with every paycheck, you retire in your later years and then can rely upon the money you’ve contributed to be there when you most need it.

Unfortunately, some Republicans in Congress are so dedicated to preserving tax breaks for the most profitable corporations and the wealthiest handful of Americans that they are willing to slash Social Security benefits in order to pay for those special interests.

This is no way to celebrate a birthday. Some Republicans in Washington are presenting a false choice, and no one should be fooled. Social Security doesn’t add to the U.S. deficit; attacks on benefits for retirees and the disabled amount to attacks on millions of the most vulnerable and voiceless Americans on behalf of a few of the most privileged and well-connected.

Social Security benefits don’t just keep seniors and the disabled out of poverty; they help the greater economy, too, when they are spent on the essential goods and services that beneficiaries rely on, like food, medicine and housing.

According to the AARP, more than one third of retiree households count on Social Security for 90 percent or more of their income. Social Security benefits keep over 36 percent of people age 65 and older out of poverty, including 39 percent of all older women, whose higher average life expectancies and lower average earnings than men make the program even more critical for them.

In today’s weak and struggling economy, we must protect Social Security beneficiaries, and the small amount of money they receive after contributing to the system their whole lives, from attacks by some Republicans in Washington on behalf of the wealthiest few.

I pledge to continue to fight, as I did during the recent debt ceiling debate, to protect the most vulnerable Americans from misguided attacks on their well-being and their ability to contribute to the nation’s economy.

The American public should join the fight too, speaking up and telling Congressional leaders to put people before special interests and protect Social Security beneficiaries so that we can focus on more fair and effective ways to improve the economy.

lucky libra August 15, 2011 at 12:29 AM
THANK YOU, WE NEED MORE PEOPLE LIKE YOU TO DO THE RIGHT THING FOR US ON SOCIAL SECURITY, SOME WILL NOT SURVIVE IF ITS CUT.
Rob Martin August 15, 2011 at 12:33 AM
It's a disgrace that Carolyn McCarthy represents Garden City in Congress. Her positions on fiscal and social issues are anathema to most G.C. residents!
rik August 15, 2011 at 01:00 AM
No one has ever suggested cutting benefits for those on Social security now or those who are over 55. The problem with SSI and Medicare is that if some adjustments are not put in now, these programs will not be around for our children. Some adjustments are easy, like eliminating SSI payments for those that earn over $250,000 a yaer in retirement. http://www.heritage.org/research/reports/2011/05/saving-the-american-dream-the-heritage-plan-to-fix-the-debt-cut-spending-and-restore-prosperity
stuart whalen August 15, 2011 at 01:57 AM
Carolyn. You do not represent me. Of course we shouldn't cut benefits of the elderly and needy, but you can certainly reduce the 'promises' to me. I do not believe the current level of Social Security benefits at the current retirement ages are sustainable. I do not think the current system which taxes low income earners at a higher proportion of income than upper income earners is ethical. Please - you and those like you - thinking yourselves 'compassionate' - have taxed the un-born - you've taxed those with no vote - you've taxed the young people just starting out - you've taxed our credulity! I am 55 and have paid in for 40 years. If I could do it legally I would forgo all my future claims if I could opt out of paying future social security taxes. There are millions like me. Funny how this great SS program only works because, at the end of the day, the government has the power to enforce it by threatening jail. OK, I know you won't make it optional but PLEASE -- try to make it sound! Make ME wait longer! Make me retire at 67 instead of 65, make those at 45 retire at 69 instead of 67 .... Institute means tests. Which means ... tax ME! You have smart people in your district. We know its not all about 'taxing the rich'. I don't want to hear any more class war fare! I don't want to hear about generation war fare! I want to hear you are doing something to put our country on a fiscally sound basis. Please do something constructive.
felicia mccabe-ohara August 15, 2011 at 03:50 AM
God Help Us!! YES, Congresswoman McCarthy you do speak for me. I wish you still represented Levittown, I have PAYED into Social Security with every pay check I have earned, I want the Bush tax CUTS ENDED NOW we can NOT afford them anymore.
DanTe August 15, 2011 at 01:01 PM
I love the folks here who says they deserve it because they've PAID into it. Social Security was always about the current generation paying for the retirement of the prior generation. It's NOT a savings account. It's a ponsi scheme set up by the dumbacrat Roosevelt and perpetuated by his ilk. And like all ponsi schemes, it leaves its "investors" broke and the villains dances off laughing - like McCarthy's dumbacrats.
Susan Britt August 15, 2011 at 01:21 PM
The government has been dipping their hands into the social security funds for so many years that the danger always looms that there won't be any money left for those who are ready to retire now or within a few years ...I hope she has the respect to really do something about it; Imagine paying into the fund for 50 years thinink that something will come of it. Now it we know it know it gets taxed ( double taxation!) and it may be cut to allow for some stupid program that has nothing to do with the original need for social security program.
s August 15, 2011 at 01:30 PM
If I may I want to say, what happened to the greatest country in the world? Our immigrant ancestors came here built it and now two generations down we barely get by -groceries are cut in 1/2 because of the cost and yet the possibility of cutting social security or taking more from it scares me. My rent will be going up in March - I get too much??? that is very questionable, in my SS to allow me to get help w/my rent - I fall between a rock and a hard place. After working 30plus years I'm, seeing it all now - it's called screwed royally.
Marc August 15, 2011 at 02:32 PM
First Obama genuflecting disguised as an "open letter." Now misplaced ideology about a social problem that is assuredly in need of repair. Is the Patch now a subsidiary of the DNC?
kent penney August 15, 2011 at 03:44 PM
cra·zy (krz) adj. cra·zi·er, cra·zi·est 1. Affected with madness; insane. 2. Informal Departing from proportion or moderation, especially: a. Possessed by enthusiasm or excitement: The crowd at the game went crazy. b. Immoderately fond; infatuated: was crazy about boys. c. Intensely involved or preoccupied: is crazy about cars and racing. d. Foolish or impractical; senseless: a crazy scheme for making quick money. n. pl. cra·zies One who is or appears insane: "To them she is not a brusque crazy, but 'appropriately passionate'" (Mary McGrory).
Jack O'Niel August 15, 2011 at 04:14 PM
You mean the Patchingtonpost?
Ray August 16, 2011 at 01:55 AM
I love how the recent economic turmoil was called a "crisis". A true "crisis" is when a relatively unforseen misfortune arises.....for example, when your cesspool is suddenly overflowing......or a fire erupts......or a disease suddenly takes hold. This economic "crisis" was many, many years in the making, and the blame falls squarely on the shoulders of ALL our elected officials. Let's all remember these bumbling imbeciles on election day and not re-elect a single one of them!!!
Marc August 16, 2011 at 02:00 AM
Good points. BTW I've always been confused as to why this woman with no qualifications is stil in her seat. Oh, wait...I know. They're all so old, they need a nurse down there.
Publius August 16, 2011 at 03:35 PM
By all means, raise the retirement age for future retirees. However, I RESENT the implication the the wage cap (currently $106,800) is unethical or results in someone not paying "their fair share" since the benefit is capped to reflect this (currently $2,366). If the wage cap is lifted, then the benefit cap should be removed. Further, I believe that instituting a means test violates the spirit of the program, which is to develop a publicly funded pension plan. Can you imagine another plan telling potential recipients "Hey, you've done a good job saving and managing your money, therefore we are not going to give you a pension check, thanks for understanding."? If we do implement means testing and lift the wage cap, I suggest another cost saving tactic: disband the social security administration and fire all of its employees. Send collected revenue directly to Health and Human Services and rename the program "Welfare for Old People" and use the current federal/state infrastructure to distribute the money.
Marc August 16, 2011 at 03:48 PM
"Can you imagine another plan telling potential recipients "Hey, you've done a good job saving and managing your money, therefore we are not going to give you a pension check, thanks for understanding."?" Yes I can...its progressive federal income tax. You work hard, earn a nice salary, invest, save some money and they tax it (take it away). Now they want to increase that tax (take more away) to distribute it to those who dont work hard, earn a nice salary, invest or save money. Just sayin'...
rik August 16, 2011 at 04:57 PM
SSI was instituted to prevent retirees from having to live in poverty. So why not cap the payout for future retirees( those 10 or 15 years away from retirement) somewhere above the poverty level. Also why not cap the amount of retirement earnings (maybe at $200,000) you can make before you lose your social security checks. Should Warren Buffet be getting SSI checks, even if he paid into the system?
Publius August 16, 2011 at 05:17 PM
I agree the progressive income tax is unfair but to confiscate income and redistribute it as part of the social security program truly violates the spirit of the program so it is more egregious.
Publius August 16, 2011 at 05:19 PM
Why shouldn't Warren buffet get a check? Because YOU think he doesn't need it. Can I come over to your house? I bet I can find at least one thing that someone needs more than you, so I will just take it and give it to them.
Marc August 16, 2011 at 05:25 PM
On an emotional level, I agree. However, that is akin to "redistribution of wealth," and, as Pablius above said, patently unfair after paying into the system one's whole life, and thus, I must disagree.
Jack O'Niel August 17, 2011 at 01:51 AM
Don't fall for Buffet's nonsense. This is a man that does everything he can to shelter his income then complains he isn't taxed enough. This is a man who is avoiding the estate tax by donating his money to Bill Gates' foundation. I'm cool with charity but this is the same Buffet that is OK with other people's money being confiscated by the govt when they die. Never mention Buffet and taxes if you want to be taken seriously.
Jack O'Niel August 17, 2011 at 01:53 AM
Progressive tax is wrong. Everyone should be paying something. Don't bother with the sales tax argument because that's a non-starter. You vote, you should be paying taxes or perhaps you should have to pay taxes to vote. Over 50% of the population pays no taxes - that is so wrong.

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