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July 23rd, 2012
BALCONY Statement on the Proposed 2012 Democratic Platform Language
July 23, 2012
The Business and Labor Coalition of New York (BALCONY, www.BalconyNewYork.com,) believes that our country’s Social Security system represents the best of America’s values: reward for hard work, prudent management, human dignity, and responsibility for ourselves, as well as for our parents, our children, our spouses, and our neighbors, through the sharing of risk.
BALCONY represents more than 1,000 businesses, labor unions, trade associations and non profits, working together to find common ground on New York public policy issues.
After a lifetime of work, Americans deserve a secure, independent old age. With the decline of traditional pensions, the riskiness of 401(k) plans, and the loss of home equity, our Social Security system is more important than ever. Social Security fortifies our families, our communities and our nation against events to which all are subject – disability, premature death, or living to a very old age.
As the nation’s most universal, fair, secure, and efficient source of retirement income, as well as the most important and often only source of middle class families’ life insurance and disability insurance, we reject the idea that our Social Security system is a problem. Rather, BALCONY sees Social Security as the solution it is. We are committed to keeping it the important foundation on which all of us can build a secure, independent retirement. We are committed to keeping its vital life insurance and disability insurance protection strong and secure.
BALCONY is committed to preserving and strengthening this legacy and passing it forward to new generations. We object to Social Security’s vital benefits being cut directly or indirectly. Instead, we favor increasing benefits across-the-board. In addition, we support the extension of Social Security’s vital protections, through caregiver credits, to women and men who contribute to our nation by working in the home caring for their children or other relatives who are ill or living with serious disabilities. We believe that its vital support for children, whose parent has died or become disabled, should be extended past high school through college or vocational school, as that parent would have done if he or she could have. BALCONY further believes that Social Security’s vital benefits be provided on an equal basis to all couples in civil unions or legally married under state law. To ensure that the value of these modest benefits do not erode over time, we support adjusting annual benefits in accordance with the Consumer Price Index for Elderly Americans (CPI-E,) which, because it recognizes the greater health care costs of seniors and people with disabilities, is a more accurate index for Social Security and for its companion program, the Supplemental Security Income program
The Social Security contributions of workers and their employers pay for the overhead of providing Social Security’s earned benefits. Social Security has an accumulated reserve of $2.7 trillion. Therefore, it is only right that the Social Security Administration (“SSA”) be adequately funded so that workers and their families have reliable access to the benefits they have earned. Moreover, because the law unambiguously states that Social Security is not to be considered part of the federal budget, we believe that SSA’s annual budget should be determined on its own, not in competition with agencies whose expenses are paid for from the general operating fund of the United States. We support strengthening Social Security’s finances, as well as paying for the improvements in Social Security’s benefits and administration, by requiring that the wealthiest among us, those who have benefited so much from the Commonwealth, pay their fair share.
BALCONY will work to assure that middle aged workers and middle class families can be sure that they will receive the benefits they are earning. And we will work to assure that younger workers and those who follow will receive the same life, disability, and retirement insurance protections that will be so necessary to their families and a well-functioning nation. We favor increasing the benefits and the asset and income limits of the Supplemental Security Income program, which protects the most vulnerable among us, but whose benefits, even with state supplements, are below the poverty line and whose qualifications demand that SSI recipients have no more than $2000 in savings and minimal other income
We object to the notion that Social Security’s modest, but vital benefits should be cut directly or indirectly. Instead, we believe that Social Security’s finances should be strengthened by ensuring that the wealthiest among us, those who have benefited so much from the American economy, should pay their fair share.
Submitted by BALCONY co-Chairs Alan Lubin, Catherine M. Abate and Robert M. Hayes.