The National Committee is actively pushing back against conservative propaganda about Social Security aimed squarely at Millennials. In June, NCPSSM released a video refuting Rep. Dan Crenshaw’s comments at a recent Congressional hearing, in which he perpetuated some of the most pernicious myths about young adults and Social Security. Last week, Truthout published an op-ed by NCPSSM president Max Richtman entitled, “We Must Fight to Preserve Social Security for Millennials.”
If you’re a Millennial, you may have been led to believe that you have a better chance of seeing a UFO or Bigfoot than receiving a Social Security check. In a recent survey, some 80 percent of Millennials are concerned that they won’t be able to receive any Social Security benefits upon retirement. – National Committee president Max Richtman, Truthout, 7/5/19
Dividing the generations has long been an arrow in the quiver of Social Security’s opponents. In 1983, the libertarian Cato Institute laid the foundation in a seminal article, “Achieving Social Security Reform: A Leninist Strategy.”
“First, we must recognize that there is a firm coalition behind the present Social Security system, and that this coalition has been very effective in winning political concessions for many years. Before Social Security can be reformed, we must begin to divide this coalition and cast doubt on the picture of reality it presents to the general public.” – CATO Institute, 1983
The most recent iteration of this “Leninist Strategy” is to divide Millennials and seniors using a combination of misinformation and fearmongering. The key propaganda points are all too familiar by now:
*Social Security won’t be there for Millennials when they retire because the system is going “bankrupt.”
*It’s unfair that Millennials “support the older generations” through Social Security payroll contributions.
*Millennials would be better off investing their payroll contributions in the stock market.
The Truthout op-ed and the video encourage Millennials to reject the conservative disinformation campaign. They emphasize that Social Security is not going bankrupt and can be put on a sound financial footing for the rest of the century without benefit cuts. In fact, Social Security can be modestly expanded for the seniors of today and tomorrow. (See Rep. John Larson’s Social Security 2100 Act.)
Social Security is a compact between the generations that has worked for almost 85 years and will continue to provide Americans with baseline financial security in the future. Privatizing workers’ earned benefits by investing payroll contributions on Wall Street is a colossally bad idea. Look no further than the crash of 2008 to understand why. Furthermore, as Max Richtman points out, many people forget that Social Security is much more than a retirement income program. It also provides disability, spousal and survivor’s benefits to people of all ages, including young adults.
“The average worker with a spouse and two children would have to purchase more than $600,000 in life and disability insurance to replace the protections Social Security provides. In fact, some 1.2 million millennials already receive Social Security benefits.” – Max Richtman, Truthout, 7/5/19
The Urban Institute reports that the average Millennial will receive $1,000,000 in Social Security retirement benefits – about 200% of what today’s beneficiaries collect. And with two-thirds of Millennials having saved nothing for retirement, they likely will need every penny to stay out of poverty during their senior years.
For all of these reasons, the National Committee is urging Millennials to ignore conservative myths and rally around the Social Security program. “Join your parents and grandparents in protecting Social Security as if your financial well-being depends on it,” writes Richtman. “Because it does.”