Social Security and Medicare are among the most successful programs our country has undertaken. Older Americans have worked hard and sacrificed themselves to ensure a better, stronger country for future generations. These programs are a measure of what Americans truly value, and who we are as a nation. Rep. Slaughter will continue to take a leading role to improve—rather than undermine—Social Security and Medicare.
Preserving Social Security
This visionary program, which is essentially a promise between generations, was instituted by President Franklin Roosevelt during the depths of the Great Depression. In the 75 years since its founding, it has become one of the pillars of our society. Social Security has provided older Americans with the supplementary income necessary to achieve a healthy, stable retirement since 1935. It has reduced poverty dramatically among older Americans and given them reliable access to good health care.
Without Social Security, one out of every two seniors would fall into poverty. Disabled individuals and surviving dependents – including millions of children – would find themselves without this critical safety net in their time of need. In New York's 28th Congressional District alone, over 120,000 people received Social Security benefits in 2009, including over 77,000 seniors and nearly 13,000 children who receive benefits because a family member has retired, become disabled, or died.
Despite the program's demonstrated success and longevity over the years, there are some in Congress who say Social Security should be fundamentally altered, even partially or completely privatized.
In October 2010, Congresswoman Slaughter joined like-minded House colleagues in sending a letter to President Obama expressing their strong support for Social Security and their view that it should be strengthened. The letter states:
"We oppose any cuts to Social Security benefits, including raising the retirement age. We also oppose any effort to privatize Social Security, in whole or in part."
COLA Relief for Seniors
Congresswoman Slaughter has also cosponsored legislation to provide needed relief to seniors as there was no Social Security cost of living adjustment (COLA) in 2010, and it is widely expected that there will be no COLA for 2011 as well.
By law, the COLA is calculated by comparing the increase or decrease in consumer prices from one year to the next. Due to high energy prices in 2008, inflation increased and the 2009 COLA was the highest increase in decades at 5.8 percent. Because of stagnant consumer prices, there was no COLA in 2010, and it is projected that there will be no COLA in 2011.