SOCIAL SECURITY Group will observe anniversary Thursday

The group favors guaranteed benefits.
WARREN -- A local activist organization will conduct belated observances of Social Security's 70th birthday outside the Social Security offices in Warren and Youngstown on Thursday.
The Mahoning Valley Coalition to Save Our Social Security at 9 a.m. will kick off their "Happy Birthday to Social Security" day of action in front of the Social Security office at 1353 E. Market St. in Warren. There will be a short speech by U.S. Rep. Tim Ryan of Niles, D-17th.
The group will then join a car caravan to a lunch-time rally at the Youngstown Social Security office, 101 Federal Plaza East, where state Sen. Robert Hagan of Youngstown, D-33rd, will address the group.
Government officials, who enthusiastically promoted previous anniversaries of Social Security, whose actual birthday is Aug. 14, have not promoted its 70th birthday this year, said Kate Lyell, coalition vice-chairwoman.
"This year, they've been relatively quiet," said Lyell, who is also volunteer coordinator for the Mahoning County Democratic Party. "So we're taking it upon ourselves, across Ohio and across the country, to let people know that it is 70 years of guaranteed benefits, and we'd like to keep it that way."
Against privatization
The coalition opposes privatization of Social Security benefits, Lyell said. "For the past 70 years, we've had guaranteed benefits, not benefits that come and go with the tides of the stock market," she added.
The Bush administration is proposing that workers be allowed to invest a portion of their Social Security contributions in private markets.
The rallies will feature a giant birthday card the public will be invited to sign, a birthday cake, and post cards to be sent to lawmakers asking them to support guaranteed benefits.
The coalition is a non-partisan organization dedicated to the preservation of Social Security, which was established during the Great Depression in 1935 as one of the key elements of then-President Franklin Roosevelt's New Deal. The coalition consists of labor, church, political and community leaders.
"I just hope the public takes part and becomes active in keeping a tradition that's helped so many people for 70 years," Lyell said.

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