Hey, Washington! Don’t bargain away our hard-earned Social Security benefits

October 21, 2013

Dear Editor, Lisa Lamkins
For all the talk about Social Security, one thing you never hear is the vital role it plays as an engine of the U.S. economy.
Yet Social Security benefits do more than keep millions of families afloat and help middle-class workers stay independent after decades of labor. Those payments also fuel a vast amount of economic activity in Wisconsin and throughout the nation, providing an economic benefit that helps us all.
In fact, Social Security’s $762-billion in benefits sparked almost $1.4-trillion in total spending last year, according to a new analysis by AARP’s Public Policy Institute. That includes $28-billion of spending in Wisconsin alone.
Overall, each dollar in Social Security benefits generates about two dollars in spending, the study found.
Impressive as the state data are, the national figures are remarkable. The $1.4-trillion in U.S. economic activity driven by Social Security meant about 9.2 million jobs in 2012, including 195,000 jobs in Wisconsin. That’s an economic benefit worth applauding.
Social Security is becoming even more essential as a growing number of older Americans struggle to stay financially secure in a weak job market, with meager savings and no employer pension to help with the monthly bills.
We already knew that Social Security accounts for about half the income of typical seniors, and substantially more than that for millions. But AARP’s analysis shows that Social Security helps everyone.

The numbers illustrate that cutbacks to the program could have negative consequences for the entire economy. They underscore the importance of decisions to be made in Washington about how best to address Social Security’s finances and keep the program strong.
AARP is calling on the President and Congress to leave Medicare and Social Security out of any political deal involving the debt ceiling. Americans have paid into Social Security and they’ve earned a say in the future of the programs, not a political deal that will cut their hard-earned benefits.
Also, the critical economic value of Social Security is one more reason that AARP wants to be sure Congress doesn’t default on our nation’s debt – potentially putting Social Security payments in peril.
We urge Members of Congress to keep these new economic findings in mind when they engage in this crucial debate. The stakes are enormous – for all of us.
Lisa Lamkins
Federal Issues
Advocacy Director
AARP Wisconsin