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NAACP’s Position on Proposed Changes to Social Security

WHEREAS, for more than 60 years, Social Security has kept generations of Americans out of poverty by providing a base for retirement and a true sense of security; and

WHEREAS, Social Security now provides the sole income for more than one-third of the nation's retirees, disabled and survivors; and

WHEREAS, Social Security remains especially important to African Americans and other racial and ethnic minority Americans, as we have traditionally been at the low end of the earning scale over our lifetimes; as a result, Americans of color are less likely to have substantial individual savings and are generally more dependent on Social Security in our retirement years; and

WHEREAS, Social Security is the only source of income for 1 in 3 African Americans over the age of 65; and

WHEREAS, without the guaranteed Social Security benefits they receive today, the poverty rate among older African Americans would more than double, pushing most African American seniors into squalor and poverty during their most vulnerable years; and

WHEREAS, a decrease in Social Security benefits would prove to be especially traumatic to African Americans, as almost 80% of African Americans over age 65 depend on Social Security for more than half of their income and more than half rely on it for 90% or more of their income; and

WHEREAS, Social Security remains one of the most important anti-poverty programs ever undertaken by the U.S. government for its citizens; and

WHEREAS, Social Security benefits for disabled workers and surviving family members are also imperative to the survival of a disproportionately high number of African Americans; and

WHEREAS, African Americans between the ages of 50 and 59 are nearly two times as likely as other workers in that age group to become disabled; and

WHEREAS, African American children are almost four times as likely to be lifted out of poverty by Social Security benefits than our white counterparts; and

WHEREAS, we must take care to see that the impact of any changes in the Social Security system does not fall disproportionately on lower income groups, or on those Americans whose work-life has been physically demanding; and

WHEREAS, any changes should not make the financing of Social Security any less progressive; and

WHEREAS, while the NAACP strongly encourages all Americans at every age and of every racial and ethnic background to invest in the American economy and to save for the future, privatization of one's Social Security benefits would make many seniors even more dependent on the state of the national economy while gambling our Social Security benefits on the volatile stock market that has, in recent years, left too many of our seniors with nothing but our government program to sustain them; and

WHEREAS, the privatization plans that we have seen to date being promoted by the White House actually eliminate the progressive benefit structure, which gives more help to lower wage workers than it does to those with higher incomes; and

WHEREAS, the NAACP remains staunchly opposed to any initiative that would require Social Security beneficiaries to pay more for the administration of the program, and thus receiving less; and

WHEREAS, to date, all of the privatization proposals that have been put forth would, in fact, increase the administrative overhead of Social Security; and

WHEREAS, there are many issues within the Social Security program that need to be reviewed, such as the burial amount given to survivors. Currently, Social Security provides families with $255 to cover burial fees; an amount that has not changed since 1955. At 2005 rates, that is barely enough to cover the flower arrangements; and

WHEREAS, one of the very real problems currently facing the Social Security system is not from demographics, but from stagnant wage growth; in fact, more than two-thirds of the projected Social Security shortfall can be directly attributed to the slower growth of real wages; and

WHEREAS, many high paying jobs are being outsourced to foreign countries, and outsourcing jobs reduces the total number of Americans working at jobs that pay a decent salary and thus causing less revenue to be accrued by the Social Security Trust Fund; and

WHEREAS, each job that leaves the country diminishes the tax base that funds Social Security.

THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED, that the NAACP is firmly opposed to any change in the Social Security Administration system which may result in an increase in vulnerability or in a decrease in benefits; and

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED, that the NAACP go on record against the rapid increase in outsourcing jobs to other countries and that businesses be encouraged to increase and expand the US work force; and

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED, that the NAACP remains staunchly opposed to any plan that would decrease or in any way jeopardize the guaranteed benefits that America's seniors, disabled or survivors currently receive from Social Security; and

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED, that the NAACP supports all efforts to ensure that Social Security is protected for generations to come, and is committed to working with policy-makers who understand the very real need many people in our communities across the country have for guaranteed Social Security benefits; and

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED, that the NAACP urges everyone who is looking at the issues surrounding Social Security to move cautiously, as the NAACP is well aware that Social Security is currently in solid financial standing and will remain so for years to come; and

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED, that the NAACP strongly urges the Social Security system to use correct actuarial tables to make them reflective of the African American mortality experience; and

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED, that the NAACP, in addition to ensuring the continuity of guaranteed benefits at their current levels, will also focus on the need to address issues that have not changed for decades; and

BE IT FINALLY RESOLVED, that the NAACP is firmly opposed to any plan that seeks to privatize or otherwise move the maintenance, control or administration of Social Security benefits to any private non-government entity.

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