Privatizing Social Security Would Hurt African Americans Board of Directors vote to support Healthy Families Act that would provide paid sick leave to all workers

New York -- Leaders of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) today said that privatizing Social Security would cause a disproportionate and irreparable harm to African American retirees and others who depend on disability and survivor benefits.

“Privatization is another effort to reward wealthy Americans at the expense of working Americans, particularly black working Americans, asking them to play the lottery with their future,” Julian Bond, Chairman, NAACP Board of Directors, told about 300 NAACP members who attended the 96th Annual Meeting in New York’s Hilton Hotel.

In addition to Social Security, NAACP Interim President & CEO Dennis Hayes said the investigation of the NAACP’s tax exempt status continues to be a matter of serious concern. Hayes said: “The IRS challenge is one we have to take seriously because it is something that could affect our ability to carry out our mission. At the same time, I am sure we will be vindicated.”

Commenting on President Bush’s claim that privatizing Social Security would benefit African Americans because their average lifespan is shorter than whites, Bond said: “It isn’t Social Security that’s a bad deal for blacks – dying too early is the real bad deal! They would rather play the race card than actually address blacks’ shorter life expectancy. Using shorter black life expectancy as an excuse for privatizing Social Security isn’t just offensive; it is also misleading.”

Bond continued: “The black-white disparity in life expectancies practically disappears at retirement age. If they really cared about black life expectancy, they’d fix health care, which is really broken. They’d fix the black-white unemployment gap – joblessness for blacks is always twice the rate for whites.” He added: “They’d find ways to end the numerous threats to long life and to extend our lives. Instead, they want to turn Social Security into broker security. This argument isn’t about Main Street; it’s about Wall Street.”

Social Security is the only source of income for 1 in 3 African Americans over the age of 65. Moreover, nearly 80% of African Americans over age 65 depend on Social Security for more than half of their income.

Hilary Shelton, Director, NAACP Washington Bureau, said, “All three Social Security programs, retirement, disability and survivor’s benefits, are disproportionately important to the economic survival of African Americans and other racial and ethnic minorities.” In addition, Shelton said, “African American children are almost four times more likely to be lifted out of poverty by Social Security benefits than our white counterparts.”

The NAACP National Board of Directors unanimously voted to oppose any change in the Social Security system “that would decrease or in any way jeopardize the guaranteed benefits tha t America’s seniors, disabled or survivors currently receive.”

Abstract from Report on The Social Security Privatization Crisis: Assessing the Impact on African American Families Center for Policy Analysis and Research Maya Rockeymoore, Ph.D. Vice President of Research and Programs Congressional Black Caucus Foundation:

For years, proponents of individual accounts have argued that African Americans can make up for centuries of discrimination and disadvantage by investing a portion or all of their Social Security payroll contributions in the stock market. Despite the lure of these arguments, African Americans, policymakers, and the general public must take care to understand the importance of Social Security to African American families and how they would be affected if the system were partially privatized. .. Social Security is a comprehensive family insurance program that is extremely important for African American families who heavily rely on its survivor, disability and retirement benefits. African American children are especially reliant on Social Security’s steady benefits comprising 20 percent of all retired worker child beneficiaries, 23 percent of all child survivor beneficiaries, and 21 percent of all disabled worker child recipients. .. Deep cuts in Social Security’s steady benefits, like those proposed in Model 2 of the President’s Social Security Commission, are a threat to African American families who would be most likely to face extreme poverty in the event that revenue from individual accounts are insufficient to cover the costs of retirement, disability, or survivor benefits. Young African American workers who experience early disability or death would not have enough accumulated in their individual accounts to cover the amount of the cuts. Black children and widow(er)s are likely to suffer the most. .. Arguments that African Americans would receive great wealth from individual accounts are misleading and overlook the fact that existing racial income disparities would remain or even widen under individual accounts even if blacks and whites were earning the same rate of return. African Americans, who have lower earnings and higher rates of unemployment, would be severely disadvantaged by the elimination of a real progressive benefit structure in a system of individual accounts.

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