By John Mulcahy
Schauer, who faces Republican Tim Walberg in the race for the 7th Congressional District seat, spoke to a group of about 35 people at the Adrian Senior Center on the 75th anniversary of President Franklin Roosevelt signing the Social Security Act.
To make his point, Schauer signed a written pledge on a poster board in front of the group, promising to strengthen and protect Social Security and fight any attempt to convert its funds to private investment accounts.
“I will oppose with every ounce of energy privatization of Social Security,” Schauer said.
Schauer was joined by Max Richtman, executive vice president of the National Committee to Preserve Social Security and Medicare, a group that lobbies on behalf of those programs.
Richtman said his group is worried that President Barack Obama’s National Commission on Fiscal Responsibility and Reform will take aim at Social Security as one way of reducing the deficit. Richtman expressed particular concern about Republican Rep. Paul Ryan’s “Roadmap for America’s Future,” which calls for alowing some Social Security taxes to be invested in private accounts and would replace the current Medicare system with a health insurance voucher system.
Ryan is a member of the commission.
The commission is expected to present a plan to Congress by Dec. 1, and Schauer said he would not vote for the plan if it includes Social Security benefit cuts or privatization schemes.
Schauer took aim at Walberg, playing a tape of Walberg talking to a group called iCaucus in which Walberg said, “… I would definitely support the privatization of the so-called Social Security system. …”
He said Walberg’s plan for allowing younger people to invest in private accounts instead of paying Social Security taxes will harm the system.
“Either he doesn’t understand or he doesn’t care” how Social Security works, Schauer said in an interview after Saturday’s event. “He will be cutting benefits to current beneficiaries.”
He also accused Walberg of duplicity, saying he was unwilling to call his plan “privatization” to most groups.
Contacted Saturday, Walberg campaign manager Joe Wicks accused Schauer of using a snippet of the tape, in which Walberg goes on to explain his plan for allowing younger workers to get out of Social Security.
“Tim has the same position he’s always had,” Wicks said.
Schauer cited a statement by Social Security trustees that even with no changes whatsoever, the system could pay all the benefits it owes until 2037 and could pay 78 percent of benefits after that.
Social Security is “not in crisis,” Schauer said.
Schauer said he is not ready to commit to any plan to raise the level of income on which Social Security taxes must be paid — currently up to $106,800 a year — and that he is for extending all of the Bush tax cuts for the “foreseeable future.”