AFT - American Federation of Teachers

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AFT Resolutions

SOCIAL SECURITY AND THE FEDERAL BUDGET DEFICIT

WHEREAS, Social Security has demonstrated great success over the decades since its enactment, efficiently providing retired workers with income security and preventing millions of workers, including retirees, disabled workers, children, widows, widowers, parents and spouses, from falling into poverty; and

WHEREAS, Social Security is entirely funded by payroll taxes paid by workers and employers and is not in any manner responsible for the federal government's accumulated debt; and

WHEREAS, minor adjustments to the funding formula and removing the cap on taxable income will ensure the continued solvency of Social Security for the foreseeable future, thereby maintaining its benefits for future retirees; and

WHEREAS, it is unconscionable that deficit reduction proposals, such as that put forward by Alan Simpson and Erskine Bowles, should target Social Security for significant and disproportionate cuts in benefits in order to pay federal debts—debts largely due to tax cuts for the wealthy, a financial collapse produced by wild speculation, and two wars; and

WHEREAS, the 2012 trustees report states that Social Security has a large and growing surplus. Last year's report projected that at the end of 2011, Social Security would have an accumulated surplus of around $2.7 trillion, which it now has, and this year's report predicts it will remain about $2.7 trillion at the end of 2012. The 2012 estimate was based on projected revenue of $846 billion from its three revenue sources and outlays of $788.7 billion; and

WHEREAS, it should be addressed separately and only after the current deficit debate is concluded and not behind closed doors; and

WHEREAS, given the unpredictability of disability and premature death, and the insecurity of employer-sponsored retirement arrangements, stocks, home equity and other savings, Social Security will be a more important source of income for tomorrow's workers; and

WHEREAS, the proposal known as the Chained CPI would change the formula to calculate the annual COLA, which would cut the benefit of the average current beneficiaries after 10 years by about $600 a year and after 20 years by about $1,000; and

WHEREAS, the proposal to raise the retirement age beyond the current age of 67 would be a 13 percent benefit cut on top of the 13 percent benefit cut when the retirement age was increased from 65 to 67 years old; and

WHEREAS, the proposal to means-test Social Security would break the bond between contributions and earnings, which would compromise public support for the program, leaving it far more vulnerable to cuts in order to reduce the nation's debt:

RESOLVED, that Social Security must be preserved for future generations who stand to lose the most from any program cuts, and it must not be used as a piggy bank for unrelated purposes; and

RESOLVED, that Social Security must be held apart from proposals for reducing the federal government deficit; and

RESOLVED, that the American Federation of Teachers and its affiliates will support and encourage only such changes in Social Security as are reasonable and necessary to improve benefits and for self-funding of the program; and

RESOLVED, that the AFT will work against means-testing the benefit of Social Security; and

RESOLVED, that the AFT will support candidates who will support labor's positions to strengthen Social Security and retirement benefits for which union members have bargained and worked hard to maintain.


(2012)