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posted: 8/13/2012 5:00 AM

Wire story all wrong on Social Security

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The Associated Press story your paper ran last week ("Social Security not deal it once was for workers") completely ignores the retirement reality. When IRAs and retirement accounts lost a huge percent of their value in the recession, Social Security never missed a payment. When public pension funds are seriously underfunded and at risk of disappearing, Social Security will remain solvent for more than two decades. And that's if we do nothing to strengthen a program that more than 50 million seniors rely on.

And Social Security has not added one penny to the nation's debt. It is a separate insurance fund which, before federal law was changed, actually was used as a source for presidents to borrow money for other purposes.

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At this moment of retirement uncertainty, Social Security is the only retirement program that has been rock solid for many generations, and we need to make sure it is strong for generations to come.

Privatizing Social Security is a mistake. The recession taught us that betting your retirement on the stock market can be a loser that leaves seniors stranded.

But we can and must make Social Security stronger. We can raise Social Security eligible wages back to 1984 levels, buying us a decade of solvency. We should phase in, over decades, gradual increases in the retirement age to reflect the reality that we are living and working longer. For example, the Bowles-Simpson plan proposed adding one year over the next 40 years. That way our kids and grandkids will have the same retirement insurance we have.

The AP story paints a negative image of the most popular and successful federal program in history. Americans who have counted on Social Security for almost 80 years know better.

Dick Durbin

U.S. Senator

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