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New Coalition of Latino Organizations Unveil Plan to Protect Social Security

January 19, 2011

Contact: Lizette Jenness Olmos, (202) 833-6130
Enrique Cortez, (202) 525-7411

WASHINGTON, DC – Today, Latinos for a Secure Retirement was launched to serve as a voice for the Latino American community in the fight to defend Social Security as new threats emerge against the 75 year-old program. The Latinos for a Secure Retirement coalition brings together some of the strongest and most prominent advocates for Latinos in the country including the League of United Latin American Citizens (LULAC), the Labor Council for Latin American Advancement (LCLAA), The Hispanic Federation, the National Hispanic Council on Aging, MANA- A National Latina Organization, SER- Jobs for Progress National, Inc., the Institute for the Puerto Rican/Hispanic Elderly, the American GI Forum and the National Association for Hispanic Elderly.

“Our coalition members have deep roots in Latino communities throughout the United States and I am honored to lead this grassroots effort to mobilize our community to protect Social Security,” said Jeff Cruz, the new executive director of the Latinos for a Secure Retirement coalition.

During their announcement today, Latinos for a Secure Retirement unveiled their policy recommendations in a report entitled “Protecting Social Security: A Blueprint for Strengthening Social Security for All Americans.” The plan features recommendations to ensure the sustainability and solvency of Social Security for the next 75 years and beyond without any cuts to benefits or increase in the retirement age. The full report is available at www.lulac.org/socialsecurity.

The need for the coalition grew in response to recent attacks from Social Security adversaries who have falsely attributed the nation’s rising deficit problems with the program. In the Latino community Social Security benefits represent nearly all the income for almost half of Latino seniors. While keeping millions of seniors out of poverty every year, the average Social Security benefit for Latino seniors is only $12,213 for men, and only $9,536 for Latinas.

"LCLAA is proud to re-launch Latinos for a Secure Retirement. Social Security is about economic security and the dignity with which our elderly will live in their sunset years. As vital contributors and impending beneficiaries, Latinos have a stake in protecting the future of Social Security,” stated Hector E. Sanchez, Executive Director of LCLAA. “Any plans to privatize, reduce benefits, and lift the retirement age will jeopardize the economic security of a community that earns less on average than the rest of working-age people, lacks private retirement accounts and employer provided pension plans and will rely on Social Security as an important source of income".

Instead of cutting benefits or increasing the retirement age, the common sense approach presented in the plan will raise additional revenue to make Social Security fully solvent, increase the independence and fairness of Social Security, and strengthen benefits for those most in need.

While continuing to reject privatization, the plan also features several innovative suggestions for the federal government including raising the earnings cap to 90 percent of all earnings, diversifying the trust fund, extending Social Security coverage to newly hired state and local employees to ensure that all Americans can benefit from Social Security, and automatic triggers to raise additional revenue if the trust fund should come close to exhaustion.

“SER-Jobs for Progress National, Inc., is proud to join the Latinos for Secure Retirement Coalition in its work to protect and strengthen Social Security for All Americans,” Ignacio Salazar, President and CEO said. “It is imperative that we join together to ensure that promised benefits are available without cuts way into the future for all Americans who that have paid into the system.”

The most recent threat to Social Security has come from the deficit reduction proposal from Alan Simpson and Erskine Bowles, known as the Simpson-Bowles plan. However, the reality is that Social Security has never contributed a single penny to the national deficit and remains in strong financial condition today. Since its inception, Social Security has been an independent off budget program funded by a dedicated payroll (FICA) tax. Currently, Social Security is running a $2.6 trillion dollar surplus that is projected to grow to over $4 trillion by the year 2023.

“We are very concerned about some of the false misperceptions being perpetuated about Social Security,” said LULAC National Executive Director Brent Wilkes. “Social Security has not contributed to our deficit problem and is not in any crisis. It is fully funded through 2037 and will still be able to pay out about 76% of promised benefits after this date even if no changes to the program are made. With tweaks made to raise additional revenue, as in our Protecting Social Security plan, Social Security can continue to provide peace of mind for Latinos and all Americans for another 75 years and beyond.”

Americans have overwhelmingly supported Social Security and demanded that it remain independent. The Protecting Social Security plan is consistent with what Americans say they want. Americans report in surveys that they don’t mind paying for Social Security because they understand its value for themselves, their families and millions of other Americans who depend on the benefits. This support for Social Security cuts across party lines – fully 93 percent of Democrats, 85 percent of independents, and 81 percent of Republicans agree.

As a proponent of the Latino community, the Latinos for Secure Retirement coalition is dedicated to working with key decision-makers in Congress and the Administration for the adoption of the Protecting Social Security plan and other sound proposals that help working families and ensure Social Security remains strong for all Americans.

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For more information about League of United Latin American Citizens, visit www.lulac.org.
For more information about Labor Council for Latin American Advancement, visit www.lclaa.org.
For more information about The Hispanic Federation, visit www.hispanicfederation.org.
For more information about MANA, A National Latina Organization, visit www.hermana.org.
For more information about The National Hispanic Council on Aging, visit www.nhcoa.org.
For more information about Institute for the Puerto Rican/Hispanic Elderly, visit www.iprhe.org.
For more information about SER- Jobs for Progress National, Inc., visit www.ser-national.org.
For more information about the National Association for Hispanic Elderly, visit www.anppm.org.
For more information about the American GI Forum, visit www.agifusa.org

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