Thursday, February 10, 2005

Social Security: The African-American Angle

From American Progress Action....

"With support for his Social Security privatization program lagging, President Bush has decided to focus his hard sell on African-Americans. Last month, in his pitch, he said: 'African American males die sooner than other males do, which means the system is inherently unfair to a certain group. This needs to be fixed.'

President Bush has his priorities backwards. The issue that needs to 'be fixed' isn't Social Security, it's the troubling statistic that African-American males have a shorter life expectancy than any other ethnic or racial group in America. If President Bush is serious about reaching out to the African-American community, his time would be more wisely spent addressing countless inequalities faced by African-Americans in the U.S. today, like unequal access to health care, a higher incidence of unemployment, a disproportionate poverty rate and a higher rate of deadly youth violence. Instead, he has systematically cut programs designed to help combat these very issues.

African-Americans depend heavily on Social Security benefits, which would be cut under President Bush's plan. The AARP found African-Americans rely on Social Security benefits for about 44 percent of their income in retirement. That number is even higher for African-American women, who are likely to rely on Social Security for 56.8 percent of their income in retirement.

On top of that, African-Americans are less likely to have income from private assets; thus "Social Security is the only source of income for one in three African Americans over age 65." According to Hillary Shelton of the NAACP, 'African-American children are almost four times as likely to be lifted out of poverty by Social Security benefits than our white counterparts.' "

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