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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: March 22, 2004

Schumer Visits Warsaw Seniors To Launch Grassroots Effort To Protect Social Security

Last month, Federal Reserve Chairman Greenspan proposed cutting Social Security to deal with federal deficit, jeopardizing benefits for New Yorkers

Senator details fight to save Social Security with Wyoming County seniors; Urges seniors to participate in petition drive aimed at protecting benefits

7,000 residents in Wyoming County currently receive Social Security benefits; 3

US Senator Charles E. Schumer today urged seniors at the Cloisters in Warsaw to join him in putting grassroots pressure on the President to protect full Social Security benefits for current and future retirees. Schumer's effort comes on the heels of Federal Reserve Chairman Greenspan's suggestion last month that the benefits be significantly scaled down.

"When it comes to cutting Social Security, my answer is no way, no time, no how," Schumer said. "The federal government made a promise to all Americans that if they worked hard, paid their taxes, and played by the rules, they could retire in dignity and get their benefits. We're going to fight tooth and nail to protect Social Security."

Last month, Chairman Greenspan called for raising the retirement age for people to receive Social Security benefits to over 67 and slowing the rate at which benefits are adjusted for inflation. Raising the eligibility age would deprive many New Yorkers of benefits each year. Greenspan, who called for the cuts during testimony to the House Budget Committee, said Social Security is over-obligated for the future and that some models show it becoming insolvent by the middle of the century. President Bush stated that his position on Social Security benefits is that they "should not be changed for those at or near retirement." The President did not give specific details of his plan or commit to protect the benefits for future generations.

Social Security has become an essential facet of American life, with one in every six Americans receiving a Social Security benefit and 98 percent of all workers covered by Social Security. Today, almost 45 million people receive these benefits. Nine out of ten individuals age 65 and older receive Social Security benefits, and roughly two-thirds of Social Security beneficiaries receive 50% or more of their income from the program. Social Security also provides benefits to disabled workers and survivors of deceased workers. In Wyoming County, there are about 7,000 beneficiaries and 34,000 additional residents who may be targeted for cuts under Greenspan's recommendation.

Schumer encouraged Wyoming County residents to express their opposition to the plan by signing on to a petition he brought with him to the Cloisters. The signed petition will be sent straight to President Bush.

"The Social Security Trust Fund is currently projected to remain solvent until 2042 and the average monthly Social Security benefit is only about $900 per month," the petition reads. "We disagree with those who believe that this is too much to promise seniors who have worked hard, paid into the system, and made an honest living. We believe it would be wrong to balance the budget by breaking our promise to America’s seniors."

Attached is a copy of the petition Schumer circulated. The petition is also available online at www.schumer.senate.gov.

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