Social Security is our Nation's largest retirement and disability program, providing cash benefits to more than 64 million retired and disabled workers and their dependents. The Social Security system is the cornerstone of our nation's safety net for retirees. One out of every five Americans receives Social Security benefits. A .03% COLA (Cost of Living Adjustment) was put in place in January 2017 for more than 65 million retirees. I recognize that many beneficiaries feel this is insufficient, but it is a step in the right direction.
I have consistently opposed plans to privatize or partially privatize this critical program, a step I believe would undermine retirement security by cutting guaranteed benefits over 40% for future retirees. Risky privatization accounts will not make up that difference. These accounts would take nearly $5 trillion from Social Security over 20 years, and jeopardize benefits earned by current retirees, disabled workers and children who have lost a parent. Today, the average monthly benefit is $1360. Without this money, nearly 50 percent of American seniors would be living in poverty. Privatizing Social Security through individual savings accounts will put the retirement savings of too many seniors at the mercy of the stock market, in addition to saddling future generations of Americans with even greater debt. I think most would agree that our nation's recent economic troubles have highlighted the pitfalls of privatization.
Social Security continues to face long-term challenges and they should be addressed. I am 100 percent opposed, however, to the privatization of the Social Security system. Preserving Social Security for future generations is a difficult but crucial challenge, and we must do everything we can to keep our promise to America's working men and women. I will continue to work for proposals that strengthen and preserve this program.