• On the issues: Social Security

    September 9, 2016

    By Urban Media News Staff

    On July 6 of this year, the Wisconsin Alliance for Retired Americans and Wisconsin Coalition for

    Retirement Security issued a challenge to both major party candidates for the US Senate. The groups are

    committed to retirement security and gravely concerned about the future of the social security system.

    For more than 70 years, generations of American seniors have relied on the guaranteed benefit of social

    security in their golden years to make ends meet. Workers pay in during their career to support retirees,

    and when those workers retire the next generation of workers supports their retirement through

    contributions to the social security trust. That has always been the “deal.”

    But the last decade has seen multiple attempts by some to put that deal, and the social security system

    itself, in jeopardy by privatizing social security and putting benefits at risk through the stock market.

    Communities who still have not recovered from the Great Recession are rightly concerned that linking

    social security to the up and downs of the stock market is risky at best.

    During President Bush’s second term, efforts to privatize social security were defeated, but those

    opposed to this proven program have not given up the fight. That’s why organizations like the Alliance

    for Retired Americans and Coalition for Retirement Security are pushing candidates to spell out their

    position on the program. Without knowing where the candidates stand, there can be no accountability

    for elected officials who have the power to protect, or undermine, essential programs like Social


    The pledge issued to Senator Ron Johnson and his opponent, Russ Feingold, reads:

    “Social Security is an open, transparent and widely popular system that 96% of Wisconsin residents over

    the age of 65 rely on. This generation of retirees and seniors paid into the Social Security trust fund

    throughout their working years and deserve the financial security and peace of mind that Social Security


    If honored by the people of Wisconsin with election to the United States Senate, I hereby pledge to

    protect the guaranteed benefit of Social Security and will oppose any attempts to privatize Social


    Less than one week after the challenge was issued, Russ Feingold signed his name to the pledge in front

    of a room full of voters and the media at an event in western Wisconsin. According to his web site,

    Feingold believes that social security benefits should never be cut, but should be expanded.

    More than two months after receiving the challenge to lay out his position on Social Security, Senator

    Johnson has declined to sign the pledge.

    Senator Johnson’s silence is disappointing, but not entirely surprising. After all, Johnson has referred to

    the program multiple times as a ‘ponzi scheme,’ and the Huffington Post reports that when speaking to

    a group of conservative activists Johnson voiced support for privatizing Social Security.

    If Senator Johnson truly believes that the retirement of millions of Americans would be more secure

    subject to the whims of the stock market, he should explain his rationale to Wisconsin residents.

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