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|OCTOBER 2, 1998
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Deborah Dion 202-637-5036
|AFL-CIO Launches Grassroots Push On Social Security; TV And Radio Ads Implore Congress To Put Social Security First|
October 2 -
New television and radio ads beginning this afternoon will up the pressure on Congress to use the federal budget surplus -- which would not exist without the Social Security Trust Fund -- for no purpose other than strengthening Social Security. The ads are part of an escalating campaign by the 13 million member AFL-CIO to strengthen retirement security for Americans and oppose efforts to dismantle Social Security.
Last week the House of Representatives voted, largely along party lines for a plan by Speaker Newt Gingrich to use the surplus for an $80 billion election year tax cut. The proposal moves to the Senate next week, where it faces serious opposition. If, approved by the Senate, it will go back to the House for a final vote before being sent to the President.
The ads, running all over the country, point to the House vote and ask viewers to call lawmakers and urge them to "put Social Security first."
"Congress should save every dollar of the budget surplus to strengthen Social Security, the most successful domestic program in our nations history. Working families need elected officials to stand up for our long term security -- not sell out for todays electioneering," said AFL-CIO President John Sweeney.
A July poll conducted by Peter Hart Research Associates concludes that the overwhelming majority of Americans, when offered a choice between using the current federal budget surplus to strengthen Social Security or provide tax cuts, say it is more important to shore up Social Security for the long haul.
According to the Congressional Budget Office, if you take the Social Security Trust Fund out of the budget equation, the federal budget will not come into balance until 2002, and a real budget surplus will not materialize until 2005.
Social Security accounts for 98% of the projected budget surpluses over the next 10 years. Looking at the next five years, the rest of the government is running a deficit of $137 billion over the next 5 years. Without Social Security, there is no surplus to finance Republican tax giveaways.
"Social Security is the one leg of the retirement income stool that actually works for the overwhelming majority of American families, allowing them to enjoy retirement in dignity and independence. The other two legs of the stool -- pensions and savings -- are already shaky," Sweeney added.
The AFL-CIO campaign aims to educate and mobilize working families in an all-out effort to strengthen Social Security and stop privatization schemes that would undermine workers retirement security. Trainings and workshops are taking place at union federation conventions, worksites and union halls, teach-ins, and at town hall meetings all across the country to make working families voice heard in the nations debate on Social Security.
Just yesterday, the AFL-CIOs Working Womens Department announced that they will sponsor regional town hall meetings on Social Security reform and women. The first two will take place in Milwaukee on October 8 and Miami on October 19. Two more will be held in November.
AFL-CIO Executive Vice President Linda Chavez-Thompson, AFL-CIO Working Womens Director Karen Nussbaum, representatives from the Social Security Administration and members of Congress will join local women union leaders and community activists on a panel to discuss the current debate over how to strengthen the Social Security system, the effects of privatization on working women, and how working women can take action to push for the right kind of change.
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