Women from around the nation are on Capitol Hill this week, attending the Women and Social Security Summit and learning the intricacies of Social Security privatization plans. Current Social Security policies already have a disparately negative impact on women, as women receive two thirds of the benefits men do. Privatizing Social Security would only work to put women at further risk.
Totally privatizing Social Security would end entitlement and put the elderly at the mercy of the vagaries of the marketplace. A weakened Social Security system means less support for many older people, 60 percent of whom are women. Twenty-five percent of elderly women who live alone depend on Social Security as their only source of income. President Bush’s privatization plan would be particularly detrimental to women because women typically earn less. A smaller paycheck means less money to invest in a private plan and less money to rely on in retirement.
The Women and Social Security summit coincides with Bush’s introduction of a $1.6 trillion tax cut that will have a disproportionately negative impact on women. Social Security has been running at an approximately $80 – 90 billion annual surplus; under Bush’s tax cut plan, much of that surplus would be funneled back to the wealthiest 2 percent of the population. Eleanor Smeal, president of the Feminist Majority Foundation, said, “With massive tax cuts will come massive deficits, just as it happened in the eighties. Before long we will hear the cry Ôsocial security is going broke again.’ Again we will hear arguments to cut social security benefits, and of course, privatize social security.”