Today is the 75th anniversary of the signing of legislation that established the Social Security program for older Americans. The occasion was marked in Evanston by a birthday party Friday attended by about 100 seniors at the North Shore Retirement Hotel, featuring remarks by Rep. Jan Schakowsky.
Rep. Schakowsky addressing seniors at the North Shore Retirement Hotel.
The congresswoman, who said she was married in the very room in which she was speaking, came to reassure her audience that the program would always be there, not only for them, but for their children and grandchildren as well.
Noting that some 772,000 seniors who live in Illinois would be living in poverty were it not for Social Security, Schakowsky stated that “in 75 years, the program has never missed a payment…It is always there, whether the Dow goes up or the Dow goes down,” in an obvious reference to an unsuccessful attempt during the Bush Administration to privatize Social Security by investing funds in individual accounts in the stock market.
The Evanston birthday party was sponsored by the National Committee to Preserve Social Security and Medicare. One of three Democratic House members on the President’s National Commission on Fiscal Responsibility and Reform, the congresswoman said that Social Security is not on the commission’s agenda because it “has nothing to do with the deficit.”
“Social Security works,” she declared, “because it is paid for by the nation’s workers.” While some in Congress have called for raising the age of eligibility to 70 years, she rejected that suggestion as it would amount to a reduction in benefits already promised to the country’s workers. More likely, she said, would be raising or eliminating the cap on the amount of earnings subject to the payroll tax designated for Social Security.
Government budgets, she said, “reflect our values, one of which is to protect seniors from poverty.”