WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-OH) today released the following statement amid new efforts to privatize Social Security:

“Social Security is a lifeline for nearly two million Ohioans.

 “America cannot afford to abandon our 54 million seniors who depend on Social Security. A threat to dismantle Social Security as we know it is a threat to an American way of life that has kept countless seniors in their homes with food on the table and heat on in the winter.

“No elderly American should have to choose between paying for medicine or a meal. That’s why it is imperative that we preserve Social Security by rejecting plans to privatize the program or raise the retirement age.

“Americans know that Social Security is an independent program carefully designed not to affect the federal budget. Proposals like raising the retirement age may sound okay to conservative Washington politicians in a House hearing room, but they’re a non-starter for Ohioans who work on an assembly line or stand on their feet for hours each day.

“And privatizing Social Security is unacceptable. As we witnessed Wall Street recklessness threaten the collapse of our economic system, one saving grace was that President Bush’s scheme to privatize Social Security was not implemented. Imagine what would have happened if the livelihood of millions of seniors was directly tied to the stock market.

“Today, there are renewed threats to Social Security. And we must confront them with a renewed sense of purpose in protecting the Ohio seniors who have earned peace of mind in their twilight years.”

Brown has long been active in efforts to protect Social Security from privatization, and has worked to ensure that seniors can continue to afford necessities like prescription drugs despite the lack of cost-of-living-adjustments (COLA) that Social Security recipients have faced for the past two years. Brown strongly pushed for legislation to give a one-time, $250 check to Social Security recipients to help offset the rising cost of prescription drugs and other necessities.

In October, Brown was one of six senators to send a letter to Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) asking him to support legislation that would provide Social Security recipients with an emergency $250 payment in lieu of a COLA increase. According to the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, health care spending, projected to increase by 4.2 percent in 2011, already consumes close to 45 percent of seniors’ spending.