Social Security turns 75 on August 14. To me, creating Social Security was one of the best things this country has ever done.
But this milestone anniversary was recently marred by House Republican Leader John Boehner saying that if his party won this fall's elections, they would try to raise the Social Security retirement age to 70.
Can you imagine working until 70? In jobs like construction, manufacturing, and the service sector, I just don't see how you can. A study by the Center for Economic and Policy Research showed that 45 percent of workers age 58-69 are in physically demanding jobs. And in a tough labor market, who would hire someone in their late 60s?
There is a new commission meeting in Washington this year, and it is charged with recommending ways to lower the federal debt. The problem is that far too many panel members blame Social Security for our budget deficits. This is just plain false: Social Security is fully-funded through payroll taxes on workers and employers; it has not added a cent to the federal deficit.
A disturbing Gallup poll released in July showed that three-fourths of those 18 to 34 do not expect to receive a Social Security check upon retirement. Just like health reform's so-called 'death panels,' this is a reminder that when lies and scare tactics are repeated often enough, they take root.
We must tell our younger friends and family that Social Security is on solid financial ground, and warn them about people who falsely predict Social Security's demise to advance their own agenda of cutting benefits and raising the retirement age.
The best way we can celebrate Social Security's 75th birthday is by standing together to ensure that Social Security remains strong for generations to come.
Barbara J. Easterling is president of the Alliance for Retired Americans. She was previously the secretary-treasurer of the Communications Workers of America. For more information, visit www.retiredamericans.org or call 1-800-333-7212
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