15 Apr 2005 Black Activists Rap Rangel for Opposing Social Security Reform; Congressman’s “Disappointing” Rant Reduces Chances for Black Empowerment
Recent remarks by Congressman Charlie Rangel (D-NY) calling President George W. Bush’s proposal to reform the nation’s ailing Social Security system “fraud” and its promotion an “impeachable offense” are condemned by members of the black leadership network Project 21. Reform such as personal retirement accounts (PRAs), counter Project 21 members, will allow black Americans to own secure retirement wealth through the Social Security system that they can transfer to their heirs.
“Charlie Rangel is hyperventilating. He should sit down and breathe slowly with a paper sack over his face,” said Project 21 member Deroy Murdock. “President Bush is not ‘taking away’ anything from anyone. His voluntary plan would free younger workers to open personal retirement accounts that they would own and control, as opposed to today’s system controlled by politicians like Rangel. Rangel should support PRAs and help black Americans enjoy the benefits of stock ownership, something that should not be a ‘whites only’ proposition.”
In a speech outside of New York City’s City Hall on April 11, Rangel called on black Americans to take part in “missionary” work to defeat the President’s Social Security reform efforts, calling such work an extension of the civil rights struggle. He claimed that allowing people to personally invest and control a portion of their payroll taxes would “dismantle” Social Security and hurt blacks by reducing benefits.
In March, the trustees of Social Security announced that the program, which pays beneficiaries with taxes on the current workforce, will begin paying out more than it collects in 2017. By 2077, demographic changes in the United States are expected to require the program to pay out $25 trillion more than will be available. Experts expect this to lead to higher taxes and reduced benefits.
“Black Americans in particular would benefit from this reform,” adds Murdock. “Since we tend to die sooner than other Americans, we typically collect less of our Social Security benefits that do others. Personal retirement accounts would let black Americans enjoy this wealth sooner, and, unlike in today’s system, pass it along to their heirs. This would increase family wealth, another area where blacks lag behind whites.”
Project 21 member Ak’bar Shabazz concurs: “It’s disappointing, but not surprising, to see liberals try to scare people into preserving the status quo. Rangel knows the President’s proposal will not eliminate Social Security. The younger generation will have an opportunity to take more control over their futures with PRAs, and Rangel should be ashamed of himself for derailing the destinies of our youth.”
Project 21, a nonprofit and nonpartisan organization, has been a leading voice of the African-American community since 1992. For more information, contact David Almasi at (202) 507-6398 x11 or [email protected], or visit Project 21’s website at http://www.project21.org/P21Index.html.