The Common Good

What President Obama Shouldn't Say in the State of the Union Address

Source: The Nation
Date: January 24, 2011

 The great guessing game in official Washington – and the surrounding punditocracy – this week goes to the question of whether President Obama will use his State of the Union Address to open a discussion about making changes to Social Security that would undermine the retirement guarantee the federal government has maintained for three quarters of a century.

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“Let’s get one thing straight right at the beginning: Social Security is not responsible for the deficit – the program actually has been running surpluses for decades, to the tune of $2.6 trillion total,” reads a message fromSojourners, the Christian social justice group that champions programs to address poverty.

“Social Security is based on a promise: If you pay into the system with your payroll taxes, then you earn the right to guaranteed benefits. It is a system that reflects our values as a nation – values also found in scripture. There is no trust more sacred to biblical faith than the injunction to care not only for our families but also for those in need. Social Security is not just for the elderly – it also helps low-income children, widows and widowers, those with disabilities, and children without parents,” the Sojourners message continues. “In fact, without the 75-year-old program, nearly half of elderly Americans would be in poverty; with it, only 10 percent are.”