(Washington, D.C.) –Today, U.S Senator Patty Murray joined with hundreds of local seniors at the Greenwood Senior Center in Seattle to celebrate the 75th Anniversary of Social Security being signed into law. Seniors stood up to tell their stories about how important the program is to them, and the group celebrated with cake and singing of “Happy Birthday.” Senator Murray talked to the group about the importance of Social Security to Washington state seniors and her commitment to protect it from cuts and privatization.
The full text of Senator Murray’s remarks today follows:
“Thank you so much Robby for that introduction.
“You know, Robby—I thought you were retired—but you seem to be more active now than ever before! You were determined to put together a birthday celebration for Social Security—and this could never have happened without your hard work and commitment. Can we give Robby a round of applause?
“I want to thank all of you for coming out today to celebrate with us. And I want to join everyone here in wishing Social Security a happy 75th birthday!
“We just heard some powerful personal stories about the role Social Security plays in the lives of our seniors.
“It’s stories like these that make me so proud to stand up and fight for this great program—and that truly demonstrate the critical need to protect it for our seniors now and for future generations.
“Some of you here in this room may remember that August day in 1935 when President Roosevelt signed Social Security into law and forever changed what it meant to be a senior in America.
“Some of you may even remember the time before that. Seeing grandmothers and grandfathers struggle to afford groceries, or stay in their homes— with nothing standing between hard luck and a life on the streets.
“But Social Security changed all of that. It gave seniors across America a measure of dignity and a well-deserved cushion after a life of hard work. It made sure they were protected, and it lifted millions out of poverty.
“Social Security changed America for the better back in 1935—and it is just as important today.
“Without Social Security, nearly half of Americans age 65 and older would live in poverty right now. Nearly half!
“You know, now that Social Security has been around for 75 years, it’s easy for Americans to take it for granted.
“Most people today assume that if they work hard, obey the law, and pay their taxes—Social Security will be there to back them up when the time comes to retire.
“But unfortunately, we can’t take it for granted. Because there are special interest groups and politicians who are trying to gut this critical program.
“As you all know, just a few years ago I stood up and fought against a Republican party that wanted to privatize Social Security.
“They wanted to take the Security out of Social Security—and they wanted to privatize it and turn it over to the free market.
“To companies like Goldman Sachs and Lehman Brothers—and without any guarantees that millions of seniors won’t fall into poverty if the market fell.
“So I stood up and fought this terrible plan—I was so glad to have people like all of you standing by my side. And we have seen over the past year a perfect demonstration of just how dangerous it would have been to hand Social Security over to Wall Street!
“But you know something, one time on that third rail of politics wasn’t enough for some Republicans—they are still working to privatize and cut Social Security!
“They know America rejected their attempts back in 2005—but these Republicans are fighting for the Wall Street firms and special interests that would reap billions of dollars if they got their hands on your Social Security checks.
“I don’t think anyone in this room wants this to happen. I don’t think seniors across Washington state want that to happen. And as long as I am your United States Senator, I am not going to allow that to happen!
“Because when I look at a program like Social Security, I don’t see a program—I see a promise. It’s a promise from one generation to the next. It’s a promise from our government to our seniors. And it’s a promise that reflects our values.
“In a little while we are going to hear from a young woman named Teresa. And I have children and a grandson who I care about very much.
“So I am never going to stop fighting to protect Social Security for our seniors, for Teresa’ generation, for my grandson, and for generations to come.
“So thank you all again for inviting me here today. And for everything you all do for our families, communities, and state.
“I look forward to seeing you at the 80th birthday!”