AARP to Super Committee: No Cuts to Social Security, Medicare Benefits

Washington, DC–(ENEWSPF)–November 1, 2011.  AARP volunteers concerned about potential cuts to critical Social Security and Medicare benefits attended Tuesday’s Public Hearing of the Joint Select Committee on Deficit Reduction (‘super committee’), at which Erskine Bowles and former Sen. Alan Simpson (R-WY), co-chairs of President Obama’s National Commission on Fiscal Responsibility and Reform, as well as Alice Rivlin and former Sen. Pete Domenici (R-NM), co-chairs of the Debt Reduction Task Force, were scheduled as witnesses. AARP’s Senior Vice President for Government Affairs Joyce Rogers offered the following statement:

AARP urges the members of the super committee not to revisit proposals that would hurt the health and economic security of older Americans by cutting the Medicare and Social Security benefits they’ve earned. Our members are here today to bear witness on behalf of millions of older Americans who have worked hard and paid into the system their whole lives to have health coverage and a modest income they can count on in retirement.

“With a typical yearly income of $18,819, seniors are already struggling with high costs for food, health care and utilities while facing declining pensions, plummeting home values and deep losses to retirement and savings accounts.

“Both the Debt Reduction Task Force and the President’s Fiscal Commission proposed changing the formula for calculating Social Security’s annual cost of living increases, costing today’s seniors thousands of dollars over their lifetimes. For today’s beneficiaries, every dollar of the average benefit of about $14,000 is critical. And with this change, the benefit cut would grow larger as the person grows older and what little savings they have is depleted – reducing the benefit of a typical 85 year old by nearly $1,000.

“When we consider the impact on real people, the last thing we should be targeting is the guaranteed, inflation-protected Social Security benefits that millions of Americans count on every day – this is especially true since Social Security has not contributed to our nation’s large deficits.

“Previous proposals by today’s witnesses also called for changes to Medicare that would substantially shift health care costs to seniors, who already pay an average of more than $4,200 a year out of their own pockets for health care. Raising costs on the sick and the most economically vulnerable is both wrong and counter-productive policy. Instead, we should be focused on efforts to lower costs throughout the health care system.

“Our message to the super committee members today is this: No cuts to Medicare or Social Security benefits. Voters deserve a national conversation about health and retirement security, not a political deal that cuts the benefits they’ve earned.”

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