AARP Statement on White House FY2011 Budget Proposal

WASHINGTON–(ENEWSPF)–February 1, 2010.  AARP Executive Vice President Nancy A. LeaMond released the following statement in reaction to the Administration’s FY2011 budget request:

“The Administration’s budget request demonstrates the serious challenges of balancing the need to put our country’s fiscal house in order while also providing needed help to millions of Americans who are navigating a rocky economy with increasingly fewer options.

“While the Administration’s budget request offers some welcome relief for older Americans who are struggling to find employment, strengthen their retirement nest eggs, and pay for rising health care costs, we need to make sure that broad efforts to cut spending don’t do more harm than good.

“We appreciate the focus of this Administration to provide $250 in economic relief in 2011 for millions of Americans who count on Social Security to pay their bills, and have not received a cost of living adjustment (COLA) this year. AARP will continue to press for congressional action to provide the same relief this year, as stagnant Social Security benefits leave them falling further behind skyrocketing health care costs. We have heard from our members that they expect action as soon as possible.

“AARP is also pleased that the President’s budget proposes support for the critical role of family caregivers. Approximately 65 million Americans provide care to a loved one, giving about $375 billion worth of unpaid care each year—often at their own financial and emotional expense. The funding to support caregivers takes an important step to match closely with what they say they need: information and help to keep their loved ones safe at home, and support for respite care and transportation among other needs.

“In addition, AARP pledges to work with this Administration and Congress to help current workers build their own lifetime economic security through the creation of the Automatic IRA—a low-cost, high-impact tool that would help tens of millions of American workers who do not have access to an employer pension plan at work to save for retirement by directly depositing a portion of their paycheck into a retirement account.

“We commend the Administration’s proposal to extend increased federal Medicaid support to states. The economic recession is forcing increasingly more Americans to rely on Medicaid at a time when budget crises are leading some state governments to trim back this safety net. This increased federal support would not only help families in need, but would also likely help stimulate state economies.

“As we further evaluate the President’s budget proposal, however, we are studying its impact on tens of millions of older Americans who are struggling to stay in their homes as they age, trying to stay on their feet while looking for work, or relying on Social Security and Medicare as literal lifelines. AARP will continue to remain especially vigilant of proposals that would harm those who rely upon the two pillars of retirement security—Social Security and Medicare.

“We remain concerned that any recommendations from a potential fast-track debt commission could short-circuit the accountability of representative government if they are not subject to a full and open debate by Congress. Moreover, we believe that Social Security and Medicare benefits must be protected as lawmakers consider ways to reduce the deficit.

“AARP stands ready to work with the Administration and Congress on enacting a budget that will help put our country down a positive path for the long-term without losing sight of the millions of Americans under pressure right now.”

AARP’s detailed analysis of the budget and the impact on Americans 50+ will be forthcoming later this week.