Aug. 14 marks the 70th anniversary of Social Security — our country’s most effective anti-poverty program.

But what should be a joyous celebration of the New Deal’s greatest achievement must instead be a time to step up the campaign to save Social Security from the Bush administration’s drive to destroy it.

Despite the overwhelming lack of public support for introducing private accounts, the president and his advisers show no signs of dropping their plan to siphon vast Social Security resources directly into Wall Street’s pockets. Nor do Bush and his henchmen seem ready to give up their idea of cutting Social Security benefits and raising the retirement age.

As with its lies about the Iraq war, the Bush administration’s assault on Social Security is based on the lie that the program will soon run out of money. Many economists say an unchanged Social Security system is financially sound far into the future and even cautious analysts say it can pay full benefits until 2042.

Some facts about Social Security make clear the urgency of preserving and expanding this vital social insurance program.

• Sixty years ago, over half of older Americans lived in poverty. That figure is now down to about 12 percent.

• Without Social Security, 40 percent of today’s seniors would fall below the poverty line.

• The 47 million Americans who currently receive benefits include millions of disabled workers and over 3.2 million children whose parents are disabled or have died.

• Without Social Security, nearly two-thirds of elderly African Americans would live in poverty, compared to less than a quarter today. Figures for other racially and nationally oppressed people are similar.

• Nearly 40 percent of older women living alone depend on Social Security for their entire income.

Social Security was born of the struggle of millions of Americans — including thousands of Communist Party members — for a society that took responsibility for the needs of all its members. On its 70th birthday, saving Social Security is crucial to the struggle to reach that goal.

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