Social Security Rally at World Trade Center
By: Secretary-Treasurer Richard L. Trumka
June 18, 2001
We’re here to protest an outrageous assault on working families. At the top of this building in a restaurant called “Windows on the World,” U.S. Treasury Secretary Paul O’Neill is mugging America’s working families as a “Bagman” for the Bush Administration.
He’s up there with the Big Bulls of Wall Street to finance a $20 million campaign to cut Social Security benefits and raise the Social Security retirement age to 70 so our Social Security funds can be siphoned off into private investment accounts.
And make no mistake, this is a Bush Administration and Wall Street plan aimed at short-circuiting the deliberations of the American people --- they think they can sit at the top of the World Trade Center in their exclusive club and put together a kitty to buy our retirement security.
Well, our answer is “no.” You cannot buy our retirement security, because we’re not selling --- not now, not ever.
What are the Wall Street firms going to get out of this? Those private investment accounts will pay them an estimated $240 billion in fees and commissions over the next 12 years alone --- making it the biggest shakedown of American taxpayers in the history of our country.
Social Security is the most important family protection program we have and President Bush and his Treasury Secretary are supposed to be stewards of that program --- they are supposed to lead a serious national study on how to strengthen Social Security.
But what does President Bush do? He sends a cabinet officer out to raise huge contributions from his corporate supporters to undermine the financial security of America’s working families.
This fundraising offer makes the Lincoln Bedroom look like a room in a Motel 6.
A week ago, Bush’s phony commission to privatize Social Security met for the first time. They have plenty of Wall Street executives. And the Commission is stacked because there’s not a single representative of the 45 million retirees, widows, dependents and disabled Americans who receive Social Security checks each month.
Today, the Bush Treasury Secretary is meeting in secrecy with the most powerful corporations and financial institutions in our country to discuss how to confuse American voters, and start a generational war by dividing young people from older people and forcing them to fight over the crumbs from an exploding stock market.
They can meet in secret, but we know who they are --- they are a gang of corporate and financial two-faces led by the Frank Russell Company and they include State Street Advisors, Mellon Management, Brinson Partners, Morgan Stanley, American Skandia, Deutsche Bank, and the Financial Service Forum.
They call themselves “The Coalition for American Financial Security,” they pretend to be friends of the elderly and the poor. But their name tells you what they are really all about --- they are out to rob working Americans of our hopes for retirement and provide financial security for themselves.
While they claim to be interested in promoting debate and discussion, they are really just spineless vultures who want to pay someone else big bucks for a cowardly kill.
And Treasury Secretary O’Neill is worse than the Commission and the vultures of Wall Street because he wants to do more than just cut benefits, raise the retirement age to 70, and pump taxpayer dollars into the stock market --- he has said he wants to abolish Social Security and Medicare altogether.
Well, here’s our message to the Bush Commission and the Wall Street Coalition: you can run, but you can’t hide --- we will open the “Windows on the World,” we will expose you, and we will let the world witness your greed.
Brothers and sisters, today marks the beginning of the biggest struggle of our new century. It’s a struggle that is as old as time…a fight over whether the few will dictate to the many…a contest over whether we continue to foster a society of interdependence…or change to one that abandons the weak, the young, the old, the sick and the disabled.
On the one side of this struggle are the rich and the powerful. On the other side are all of us, workers and our families who produce the wealth of our country, and who depend so much on Social Security.
They have the money, big money, but we will win the struggle, just as we always win, because we have something that money cannot buy --- we have each other, and the strength of our hands and our hearts and our solidarity.
And when we bring that strength together and stand together and fight together, no one can defeat us --- the Big Bulls of Wall Street can’t defeat us…Paul O’Neill can’t defeat us…the Bush Commission can’t defeat us…the Coalition for American Financial Security can’t defeat us and George W. Bush won’t beat us…
…not now, not ever. Thank you and God bless you all.
Global Action on Aging
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