GOP’s Attack on Social Security Is Also an Attack on Blacks

Because African-Americans rely more on Social Security, they have more to lose if the program is slashed.

Posted: 03/07/2011 04:31 PM EST
Filed Under Barack Obama

President Barack Obama

As Congressional Republicans continue their assault on federal spending programs, they're currently setting their sights on Social Security, America’s decades-old social program to help needy citizens, be they seniors, the disabled or people struggling to put food on the table. And while this isn’t great news for the country in general, according to a new report [PDF] from the Joint Center on Political and Economic Studies, if the GOP slashes Social Security in the manner it would like, African-Americans will be particularly impacted.

The report, African-Americans and Social Security: A Primer, says that Black Americans are especially susceptible to cuts in Social Security because they are especially reliant on those programs to keep their heads above water.

“Although Black Americans are more likely than white Americans to receive disability and survivor benefits and less likely to receive retirement benefits, their return from taxes paid into the Social Security system exceeds that of whites,” says the report. “In addition, older African-Americans are more reliant on Social Security benefits than other groups. Thus, conversations about modifying the Social Security system must include voices of African-Americans and other racial/ethnic subpopulations whose dependence on the system is great, but whose patterns of usage may differ from the norm.”

President Obama is currently asking for more than $12 billion for Social Security’s administrative expenses in 2012, a sum from which Republicans would like to cut a full $1.7 billion.

Social Security Commissioner Michael Astrue said such a cut would be devastating: “Full funding by Congress of the president's budget request is critical. This budget request is the minimum the agency needs to continue to reduce key backlogs and to increase deficit-reducing program integrity work. It will allow us to build on the considerable progress we have achieved, progress that is vital to the millions of people who depend on our services and to the American taxpayer.”

And lest anyone think the reason Blacks are getting more Social Security services is that they’re more likely to be “welfare queens,” the report details otherwise very explicitly. “Among Social Security beneficiaries, African-Americans are more likely than whites to receive both survivor benefits and disability benefits,” it says. “Because African-Americans are more likely than whites to work in hazardous jobs, the relative frequency with which Black workers receive disability benefits and with which their spouses and children receive disability and survivor benefits is greater than for white workers.”


Image:  Brendan Smialowski/Getty Images

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