Butterfield addresses Social Security

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, April 5, 2005

POWELLSVILLE – Congressman G.K. Butterfield freely admits that Social Security’s future is in jeopardy, but he insists the current problems facing this 70-year-old program are correctable.

Butterfield, a Wilson native who represents North Carolina’s First Congressional District (23 eastern counties), addressed the Social Security issue during his visit here Thursday morning at the Katheryn Elizabeth Chavers Adult Health Care Center in Powellsville.

Speaking before a crowd of approximately 80 people, the majority of which were senior citizens, Rep. Butterfield told his audience that Social Security is currently solvent.

&uot;Don’t be misled about what you are hearing from other sources; Social Security is not bankrupt, it is not about to run out of money,&uot; Butterfield stressed. &uot;There is 1.7 trillion dollars in Social Security’s trust fund. You will not lose one cent of the money you worked so hard to get now that you are either at or approaching retirement age.&uot;

However, warned the Congressman, Social Security is not without its problems. He pointed to one glowing fact – in 1950, there were 16 workers paying into the system for every beneficiary. That number now stands at 3.3 workers.

Additionally, he said the &uot;Baby Boomer&uot; generation is now reaching retirement age, a fact that will have a great financial impact on Social Security. He pointed to 2018 as the year projected by government officials where there would be more money going out for Social Security payments than is coming in to the system.

&uot;That’s not good,&uot; he said. &uot;If that issue is not immediately addressed, then by 2052 the Social Security reserves will run out.&uot;

While Butterfield made a point of disagreeing with President Bush’s plan to fix Social Security, he didn’t rule out a compromise.

&uot;The President wants to privatize Social Security and that’s just not an acceptable measure with the Democrats,&uot; said the Congressman. &uot;He thinks that the dividends from investing these funds on Wall Street will make up for the projected Social Security shortfalls.&uot;

Butterfield continued, &uot;Yes, there is a chance that those investments will do well on Wall Street, but there’s just as good of a chance that they will not do as well. I oppose jeopardizing Social Security by reducing benefits or risky privatization schemes.&uot;

The Congressman then provided the following scenario:

Without Social Security, an estimated 48 percent of all American seniors would be living in poverty. Without Social Security, an estimated 53 percent of all senior women would be poor. And, without Social Security, poverty rates for African Americans would more than double to 58 percent.

On average, Social Security provides about three-quarters of all retirement income for African American seniors and 40 percent of African Americans rely on Social Security as their only source of income.

Of the roughly 660,000 people he represents in the First Congressional District, there are 130,336 Social Security beneficiaries. The beneficiaries include 71,255 retired workers, 24,997 disabled workers, 14,222 widows and widowers and 14,532 children.

&uot;We live in the most economically challenged area of the state,&uot; Butterfield concluded. &uot;Most of our senior citizens have nothing but Social Security to live on. They don’t have other investments such as stocks, bonds or CD’s. We don’t need to gamble with Social Security. We need to fix it by sitting down with the President and working things out.&uot;

Dr. Daniel Ferguson and his wife, former Bertie County Commissioner Patricia Ferguson, arranged Butterfield’s visit to Powellsville.