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Keep Medicare and Social Security strong

2011-06-13T00:00:00Z Keep Medicare and Social Security strongBy Joy Bruck, IR Your Turn Helena Independent Record
June 13, 2011 12:00 am  • 

Many in Congress are considering harmful cuts to Social Security and Medicare as part of a plan to raise America’s debt ceiling and reduce the federal budget deficit.

Currently, there are a variety of proposals on the table that would place “across-the board” arbitrary limits on federal spending. This could trigger cuts to Social Security and Medicare — which may dramatically increase out-of-pocket health care costs and reduce Social Security checks for our nation’s seniors.

AARP was founded more than five decades ago to ensure that older Americans have affordable health care and a reasonable measure of financial security in retirement. Since then, our commitment to protect and strengthen Social Security and Medicare has remained unchanged. AARP remains committed to fight not only for today’s seniors, but for tomorrow’s generations as well.

The average Social Security benefit paid to a retiree is $1,200 per month. That modest benefit keeps thousands of older Montanans out of poverty and allows tens of thousands more to live their retirement years independently and with peace of mind. In fact about 19 percent of all Montanans are receiving Social Security. Nearly one-third of those rely on the program for 90 percent or more of their income and nearly two-thirds rely on Social Security for 50 percent or more of their income.

Older Americans — indeed all working Americans — have earned their Social Security. It is financed through payroll contributions, and is separate from the rest of the federal budget.

Social Security has not contributed to our nation’s debt. Rather, Social Security has sufficient reserves and revenue to pay 100 percent of promised benefits until 2036. After that date, even with no change in the current program, Social Security will continue to pay about 75 percent of promised benefits.

Some in Congress have also focused on dramatic changes to Medicare as a means of reducing the federal deficit.

While it is true that Medicare costs are rising, so too are all health care costs. Certainly, rising health care costs are a matter of national concern, and a thoughtful and comprehensive look at this issue needs to continue. But placing arbitrary caps on Medicare will inevitably place more of the financial burden for medical care on our seniors — additional financial burdens which many seniors simply cannot afford.

Today, more than 167,580 Montanans depend on Medicare — about 17 percent of the state’s total population.

Of course Congress needs to address our large and growing debt, but not by harming seniors and future retirees. They should start by cutting waste, fraud and inefficiency — not by cutting funding for programs that are a lifeline to millions of older Americans. Social Security and Medicare need to be strengthened — not harmed.

Ethel Percy Andrus, the founder of AARP, once said that “an army of useful citizens can do what no one person can do alone.” With our heritage of fighting for older Americans clearly in mind, AARP will continue to fight to protect Social Security and Medicare for today’s seniors and future generations of Americans.

Right now, we need the voices of those 50 and older to help us tell members of Congress, in no uncertain terms, to oppose any harmful cuts to Social Security and Medicare. We are urging older Americans to contact their elected officials with the message that they should not harm Medicare and Social Security as they work to solve our deficit problems.

In short, our nation needs a thoughtful debate on these issues. America made a promise to our nation’s seniors. Today’s retirees spent their working years building this great country while dutifully paying into the system. Our leaders owe America’s current and future seniors policies that will allow them to live their retirement years with security and peace of mind.

Joy Bruck lives in Helena and has been AARP Montana state president since 2009.

Copyright 2015 Helena Independent Record. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

(11) Comments

  1. FrankD
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    FrankD - June 15, 2011 11:09 am
    I might listen to what the AARP has to say. But ever since they threw grandma off the cliff by backing obumacare with it's 500bil in cuts to medicare, their words are worthless to me. Funny, they say save medicare, but agree with the 500bil in cuts. Howz that work? AARP can take their propoganda drivel and stick it.
  2. whateverusay
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    whateverusay - June 14, 2011 12:30 pm
    I would just like to point out that not everyone using these programs is elderly. Disability is not age disicriminatory. Further, not all families are able to care for their disabled or elderly family member. Times are tough all over. Show some compassion for those who need our help.
  3. CewlWater
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    CewlWater - June 14, 2011 7:52 am
    Travis McAdams needs serious counseling. He's not funny and needs to go back to civics class. I can't believe the conservatives who would throw the elderly and disabled to the curb because they can't "pull up their boot straps" or have family who can take care of them. Your cruelty is pathetic.
  4. Purple
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    Purple - June 14, 2011 2:19 am
    Medicare, Medicaid, and social security are all in dire straights and the only ones who are attempting to fix the problem are the republicans while the dems and libs push their - we're happy with the way it is B.S.

    Didn't king obama once proclaim he wasn't satisified with the STATUS QUO? How come he isn't pushing dems and libs to do something to fix medicare, medicaid and social security now instead of just kicking the can down the road just like they did with the fiscal year 2010 budget, a budget which has yet to be passed - as a reminder, DEMOCRATS CONTROLLED THE HOUSE, THE SENATE, AND THE WHITE HOUSE DURING THE ENTIRE YEAR LEADING UP TO THE START OF FISCAL YEAR 2010 [that fiscal year began on 1 Oct 2009] and they failed to pass a federal budget.
  5. travismcadams
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    travismcadams - June 13, 2011 4:58 pm
    Comrade Joy has it right, the more people we can make reliant on the government the more control we have. We are almost there comrades nearly 50% are dependent on Big Brother.
    Yes, the AARP has been one of our finest front groups promoting the socialist cause. Comrade Marx utopia is almost realized. What a fine day that will be.
  6. MissoulaMom
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    MissoulaMom - June 13, 2011 11:32 am
    Why don't those who oppose Social Security opt out?

    A small portion of the population can opt out of paying the federal social security plan because they work for city, state or local governments. These individuals pay into state retirement plans.

    Another small slice of the population take a vow of poverty with the IRS and opt out of paying Social Security tax -- those individuals are members of the clergy.

    Any way you look at it, it would fit your lifestyle. Y'all seem to preach a lot anyhow, and I'm sure most of you who oppose, and live in Helena, make your money working for the state, county, city or feds or for those companies who rely on the state, county, city, feds, etc.
  7. steeline
    Report Abuse
    steeline - June 13, 2011 10:49 am
    What about cutting off those who don't pay in and lie to get the benefits that those who have paid for are losing? We need to recover the American Dream.
  8. dadltc
    Report Abuse
    dadltc - June 13, 2011 10:46 am
    kyschlo said: "...the government is suppose to take care of the elderly not starve them to death."

    Help me out here please, where does it say anything about this in the U.S. Constitution? Why can't families take care of their own elderly? Only if there isn't surviving family around should U.S. citizens as a whole be asked to care for the elderly.

  9. WhiskeyJack
    Report Abuse
    WhiskeyJack - June 13, 2011 9:18 am
    To Purple: Name calling is so shallow and useless. Calling something SOCIALISTIC propaganda does not make it so. The author of this letter on SS and Medicare made reasonable, logical arguments and Kyschlo noted the economic conditions faced by many today that furthers the argument for a strong SS and medicare social contract. To those who call out the name Socialistic in order to dismiss efforts by citizens to take care of lthemselves and their families in their declining years, I suggest that, at the very least, you go to a dictionary and learn what socialism really is.
  10. kaye6
    Report Abuse
    kaye6 - June 13, 2011 7:26 am
    Why should congress even think of cutting the social security. the government is suppose to take care of the elderly not starve them to death. we havent gotten our raises the last 2 or 3 years and looks like we wont get another one next year. yet gas goes up, groceries go up and rent around the country goes up. utilities gets 2 or more raises a year. then there are taxes. so what is left for the senior citizen to live on. why do some have to eat pet food in order to get their medicine. this is a pitiful thing for united states citizens to have to tolerate. yet millions of dollars are sent to foreign countries that HATE us. fair is fair lets take care of our own before worrying about other countries. the senior citizens should not have to go without so the president can send money overseas. congress can make their cuts right there and not send anymore of our money overseas and then they can start taking care of the elderly.
  11. Purple
    Report Abuse
    Purple - June 13, 2011 1:19 am
    Take your AARP and shove it!

    I've repeatedly sent your organization e-mails, returned your junk mail with "deceased", "refused", etc., written on the envelope containing your SOCIALISTIC propaganda.

    I probably would have signed up with your organization if only the AARP had donated one dollar to conservative candidates for each dollar you gave to the socialist party.

    The defeat-ocrats aren't interested in fixing the problem, they would rather demogogue it to death.

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