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The Social Security system provides three distinct types of benefits for workers and their families: lifetime retirement benefits for retirees who have worked at least ten years and their spouses; disability insurance for workers, their spouses, and their children; and survivors' insurance for the families of deceased workers. Social Security guarantees working and retired Americans and their family’s the economic stability that keeps them out of poverty.

The Economic Policy Institute, which is a non-partisan, non-profit organization, notes that Arkansas ranks third in the nation for a state with the highest percentage (20%) of people receiving Social Security benefits. Arkansas ranks fifth in the nation for number of people receiving disability benefits, as well as for number of children receiving survivor/ disability benefits. Ensuring the longevity of this program is important for both current and future generations.

Regardless of whose reports one wants to believe, the Social Security program is not in an immediate crisis and is able to pay out benefits until well in the future. The Social Security Administration projects that the Trust Fund will be able to meet its full obligations until 2041, at which point it will be able to pay out an estimated 73% of benefits. The Congressional Budget Office projects that the Trust Fund will be able to meet its full obligations until 2052, at which point it will be able to pay out an estimated 80% of it benefits.

With the Presidents initiative to privatize Social Security, the Trust Fund could go broke as early as the 2030s. This would be a result of shifting trillions of dollars out of the existing Trust Fund and into private accounts. By removing money from the Trust Fund, you are removing the amount of principle that receives interest, therefore causing the Fund to go broke sooner.

There is no guarantee that these private accounts will remain stable. History has shown us that the stock market has taken many unexpected downturns. Such uncertainty could leave thousands of individuals with little or no retirement income. I refuse to support any plan that will take such a chance on a person’s benefit security.

In addition to uncertain retirement income, privatization could also hurt those individuals who rely on the insurance component of the program. The President has yet to specify how a younger worker, who becomes disabled, will be affected by privatization. The Social Security Administration has noted that nearly three out of every ten workers will become disabled over the course of their lifetimes. If a person has barely been able to contribute to these private accounts, then what sort of disability protection are they afforded under the proposed privatized system?

I have many concerns regarding the Presidents initiative to privatize Social Security. I am adamantly against any plan that will gamble with the security of benefits for our retired seniors, our widows, children and disabled. I welcome the opportunity to work in a bipartisan manner to improve the long term solvency of Social Security, just as I am committed to doing with Medicare, which will become insolvent much sooner than Social Security.

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