Washington, D.C. (November 17, 2010) – The Bipartisan Policy Center’s Debt Reduction Task Force released their report, “Restoring America’s Future” today, advocating fiscal austerity measures that would affect millions of elders. The report was released one week after the National Commission on Fiscal Responsibility Chairmen Alan Simpson and Erskine Bowles released their preliminary proposal. Both reports advocate reductions in Social Security benefits, a key source of income for 56 million Americans.
The Southeast Asia Resource Action Center, a national organization that advocates on behalf of Cambodian, Hmong, Laotian and Vietnamese communities in the United States, opposes any cuts to Social Security.
“We encourage policymakers to look for methods of balancing the budget without harmful cuts to Social Security and other vital social programs,” said Doua Thor, executive director, SEARAC.
SEARAC is a member of the Diverse Elders Coalition, a group of seven organizations that is dedicated to promoting federal policy solutions that enhance the quality of life for our country’s diverse aging communities. Social Security has not contributed to the federal deficit – it is fully and solely funded by payroll tax revenues. Rather than being a scapegoat for the federal deficit, Social Security should be celebrated for administering one of the most efficient federal programs and for running a $2.6 trillion dollar surplus.
The Debt Reduction Task Force is chaired by former Federal Reserve Vice-Chair Alice Rivlin and Former Senate Budget Committee Chair Pete Domenici. One of their recommendations released today is to change the benefit formula so that retirees will receive smaller monthly benefits, arguing that higher life expectancies will mean more payments in the aggregate. Yet life expectancies vary depending on income, ethnicity and gender, and this recommendation disproportionately affects low-income communities of color who generally have lower life expectancies. The proposal also advocates for reducing cost of living adjustments.
Similarly, in their proposal released last week, Chairmen Simpson and Bowles advised changes that are ultimately harmful to current and future beneficiaries including: raising the retirement and early retirement age, reducing cost of living adjustments, and cutting benefits to middle-income workers. The National Commission on Fiscal Responsibility will release its final report on December 1.
The work of the National Commission on Fiscal Responsibility and the Bipartisan Policy Center Debt Reduction Task Force highlights the need to have substantive conversations about our nation’s fiscal trajectory, but it should not come at the expense of such a vital and successful program as Social Security. As we work towards fiscal solvency and economic recovery, it is important that economic security tenets like Social Security are protected and expanded – especially for the most vulnerable.
SEARAC is a national organization that advances the interests of Cambodian, Laotian and Vietnamese Americans by empowering communities through advocacy, leadership development and capacity building to create a socially just and equitable society. We were founded in 1979 to foster the development of nonprofit organizations led by and for Southeast Asian Americans. SEARAC has grown into an organization that strengthens the capacity of community-based organizations led by refugees from around the world; serves as a coalition builder and leader among diverse refugee communities; carries out action-oriented research projects; fosters civic engagement among refugees; and represents refugee communities at the national level in Washington, DC and at the state level in California.
For more information about the Diverse Elders Coalition and its members, please refer to:
Asociación Nacional Pro Personas Mayores: http://www.anppm.org/
National Asian Pacific Center on Aging: http://www.napca.org/
National Caucus & Center on Black Aged: http://www.ncba-aged.org/
National Hispanic Council on Aging: http://www.nhcoa.org/
National Indian Council on Aging: http://www.nicoa.org/
Services and Advocacy for GLBT Elders: http://www.sageusa.org/index.cfm
Southeast Asia Resource Action Center: http://www.searac.org/
For information on Social Security visit http://strengthensocialsecurity.org/