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News release from Americans United on Eric Cantor

March 31, 2011

CONTACT: Josh Rosenblum, Strengthen Social Security, (202) 587-1635
Jeremy Funk, Americans United for Change, (202) 470-5870

U.S. Rep. Schakowsky, Leading Seniors Advocates: Will Republicans in Congress Condemn House Majority Leader Eric Cantor’s Outrageous Calls for Abolishing Social Security and Medicare?

Cantor Caught On Tape: “We're going to have to come to grips with the fact that these programs cannot exist if we want America to be what we want America to be.”

Washington DC – Today U.S. Rep. Jan Schakowsky (D-IL) and leading seniors advocates joined a press conference call hosted by the Strengthen Social Security Campaign and Americans United for Change to challenge Republicans in Congress to denounce the radical, out-of-touch statements made by House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-VA) who said Social Security and Medicare “cannot exist” for future generations.

Listen to Cantor’s comments here, from NPR's "Morning Edition" Tuesday:

Rep. CANTOR: I mean, just from the very notion that it said that 50 percent of beneficiaries under the Social Security program use those moneys as their sole source of income. So we've got to protect today's seniors. But for the rest of us? For - you know, listen. We're going to have to come to grips with the fact that these programs cannot exist if we want America to be what we want America to be.

U.S. Rep. Jan Schakowsky (D-IL), Co-Chair of the Congressional Seniors Task Force: “There are two stark visions of our country: One is Republican Leader Eric Cantor’s, in which millionaires and billionaires get massive tax breaks paid for by cutting Social Security and health care for seniors. Cantor’s vision is one in which those who have worked all their lives – who have paid into Social Security and Medicare in order to retire in dignity – would be forced to bear the burden of deficit reduction. And his vision is one where future generations will be completely at the mercy of Wall Street and the private insurance industry. My vision – the Democrats’ vision – is of an America that works for all Americans, not just the wealthiest of the wealthy. It’s one in which we reduce the deficit by cutting unnecessary spending – not Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid. It’s a vision of our country in which we absolutely do not reduce the benefits that Americans have earned throughout their working lives. The choices are clear and I believe that the American public – like the Democrats in Congress – will fight as hard as possible to protect the American values represented in Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid.”

Edward Coyle, Executive Director of the Alliance for Retired Americans: “And now, on the eve of votes on a continuing resolution and later this spring on the debt ceiling, Eric Cantor and others are saying that Social Security is to blame for our budget deficit. That’s pure fiction, and a sleight of hand that makes no mention of tax cuts for the wealthy or big corporations like GE that pay no taxes. It’s time to stop the lies. It’s time to start telling current and future retirees the truth. Thank you, Eric Cantor. Thank you for making it crystal clear just what the Republican Party thinks of Social Security and the millions of Americans who count on it each month to make ends meet.”

Eric Kingson, Co-chair, Strengthen Social Security Campaign: “Social Security belongs to the American people -- not to politicians in Washington like Majority Leader Cantor. It belongs to the people who have worked hard all their lives and contributed to the program. It should not be used as a piggy bank to provide tax cuts to the rich or bailouts to Wall Street. That may be who Majority Leader Cantor represents but it's not the vast majority of the American people who depend on Social Security.”

Tom McMahon, executive director, Americans United for Change: “This was no slip of the tongue. We’ve long since suspected Eric Cantor’s true intentions of going down a path towards abolishing Social Security and Medicare as we know them -- intentions that he may now regret saying out loud in public. But there’s no escaping the fact that Eric Cantor was the co-author of the book “Young Guns: A New Generation of Conservative Leaders” along with Congressman Paul Ryan, which trumpeted Ryan’s radical scheme for privatizing Social Security and replacing Medicare with a voucher system that would shortchange seniors on their medical care. These privatization schemes embraced by Cantor and Ryan are designed to benefit Wall Street bankers at the same time slash guaranteed Social Security benefits and leave seniors on Medicare at the mercy of the private insurance industry. With these cherished programs under assault by Republican politicians as powerful as Eric Cantor and Paul Ryan, the American people deserve to know where their Members in Congress stand. Bottom line: if Republicans in Congress remain silent on their Majority Leader’s calls for dismantling and doing away with Social Security and Medicare for future generations, it would be tantamount to an endorsement of them.”