Senator Mikulski (D-MD), as the senior Democratic woman, has united the Democratic women of the Senate to speak with one voice against the privatization of Social Security. The Senators took to the floor of the United States Senate this morning to present their case to the American people that privatization is a gamble we cannot afford to take. Senator Mikulskis excerpted remarks follow.
We are the Democratic woman of the Senate, here to represent women in this country. We are here to stand up for American families, stand up for American children and to fight against the dismemberment of Social Security. Today, we will tell you why the Presidents proposed changes to Social Security affects women and children.
I am emphatically against the privatization of Social Security. It will hurt millions of American women, it will devastate American families, it will have a dire impact on our economy.
Women know the odds. We know with every pull of the slot machine arm, we are more likely to get a lemon instead of three gold bars. Now they want to gamble with our retirement benefit and privatize it in the stock market.
So we, the Democratic Women of the United States Senate, will not support any reform that takes us backward, instead of forward. We will use a check list we developed to ensure that bad things do not happen to women and families in the name of improvements to social security. To have our support, any changes to Social Security must be able to answer these questions:
Does the Plan:
1. Preserve Social Security's guaranteed, lifetime, inflation-protected benefits?
2. Preserve Social Security's protections for workers when they are disabled, as well as when they retire, and for workers' spouses and children when workers are disabled, retire, or die?
3. Protect against impoverishment of women by maintaining Social Security's progressive benefit structure?
4. Strengthen the financing of the Social Security system while ensuring that women and other economically disadvantaged groups are protected to the greatest degree possible.
First, we need to preserve Social Security's guaranteed, lifetime inflation-proof benefits.
Second, we need to preserve Social Security's protections for workers when they are disabled as well as when they retire, and for workers' spouses and children when workers are disabled, retire, or die. Social Security guarantees that if you suddenly become disabled you will not also be suddenly poor. If a womans husband dies, Social Security guarantees that there will be an income for her. If a parent suddenly dies, Social Security guarantees that children will be provided for.
Third, we need to protect against impoverishment of women by maintaining Social Security's progressive benefit structure. Social Security rewards work, and recognizes that all work has value. Someone may work for minimum wage, but make maximum effort. Social Security provides a minimum floor of protection to keep seniors out of destitution. Social Security has a progressive benefit structure that means it protects women who work part-time, to be a full-time mom. It protects stay-at-home moms who dont earn wages, though what they do is priceless. It protects women who work at minimum wage.
Fourth, we need to strengthen the financing of the Social Security system while ensuring that women and other economically disadvantaged groups are protected to the greatest degree possible. For many elderly women, social security is not a supplement to their income, it IS their income. One-third of women must rely solely on what they receive from Social Security. When you are old and when you are sick, there are not many things you can count on, but you should be able to count on Social Security
To the people of Maryland, I am on your side. For today and tomorrow, I am going to fight for you to have a benefit that you can count on. In my state, 732,000 people receive Social Security benefits, including nearly 400,000 women. There are 52,000 children in Maryland who depend on Social Security. That means that something happened to one of their parents, they either died or became disabled, we must keep our promise to protect our children. We cannot gamble their future.
Another big issue for our children is the debt that privatization will create. The transition to a private account system will cost trillions of dollars. This will cause higher interest rates for our mortgages, our credit cards, our cars, our student loans. Privatization will squeeze our federal budget even tighter and cut the funding for essential federal programs besides Social Security, such as Medicare and Medicaid.
We need to strengthen Social Security and improve it. How? By not playing politics, by not being ideological, by working together, by being bipartisan and doing what's right for American. I'm prepared to do that, Democrats are prepared to do that, we did it last time social security faced problems. I worked with Pres. Reagan on social security. He created a climate of civility and respect. We all worked together, across the aisle, stabilized social security program.
In conclusion, nothing is more important to our seniors than a guaranteed, inflation proof, lifetime benefit. One that is predictable, dependable, keeps pace with the cost of living thats what I am going to fight for.