By KATIE LIBECCO
VINDICATOR STAFF WRITER
YOUNGSTOWN -- Some residents of Mahoning and Trumbull counties observed Social Security's 70th anniversary with two celebrations protesting the proposed privatization of the system.
The events, called "70th Birthday of Action," were held by the Mahoning Valley Coalition to Save Our Social Security at the Warren and Youngstown Social Security offices.
State Sen. Robert F. Hagan and Capri Cafaro spoke at the Youngstown event. U.S. Rep. Tim Ryan of Niles, D-17th, spoke at the Warren office.
"There is no Social Security crisis, maybe down the road, but it's not something imminent," Ryan said. "I'd like to see modest changes, and there are many ways to do that. But privatizing the best program in the history of this county is not the way to do it."
Ryan pointed out that privatizing Social Security would mean borrowing $5 trillion from the People's Republic of China over the next two decades, adding to the already $7.8 trillion national debt.
Sen. Hagan and Capri Cafaro's speeches Thursday shared Ryan's frustrations over the Social Security system being privatized.
"Social Security is a safety net for our most vulnerable citizens," Capri Cafaro said. She is currently working with the National Committee to Preserve Social Security in Washington, D.C.
"Statistics show that privatizing social security is counterproductive to what lawmakers are trying to accomplish," Cafaro said.
Cafaro noted that there is a risk of Social Security becoming privatized in the future.
"There are many propositions on the table that involve some sort of privatization," she said.
Mike Rubicz, president of United Steelworkers Union Local 1375 at WCI Steel in Warren, is one of the leaders of the Mahoning Valley Coalition to Save Our Social Security.
"The coalition is a nonpartisan coalition made up of community organizations, religious leaders, community leaders and politicians who are trying to save Social Security," he said. "We don't think privatization gives the average working person what the system offers now."
The coalition is urging citizens to petition U.S. Sens. Mike DeWine and George Voinovich to vote against privatization.
"Today was about remembering one of the most important pieces of legislation to come out of the New Deal," the event's coordinator, Kate Lyell said. "Social Security has helped millions of Americans for 70 years. We just want to remind lawmakers that we haven't forgotten about it."
The Social Security Act became a law on Aug. 14, 1935, under President Franklin D. Roosevelt.
Anniversary celebrations were held at the Social Security Headquarters in Baltimore and at the annual Retirement Research Consortium in Washington, D.C. Another celebration was held at President Franklin D. Roosevelt's former residence, which several of his descendants attended.
Local organizers said that Americans for Social Security and Ohio United to Protect Social Security held 10 similar celebrations protesting privatization.