When Older Americans Monthwas established in 1963, only 17 million Americans had reached their 65th birthdays. About a third of older Americans lived in poverty and there were few programs to meet their needs. Today, our senior population has more than doubled and thanks to the passage of Medicare and the Older Americans Act, our nation is much better prepared to help ensure older Americans age strong and live long. But did you know that according to the National Academy of Sciences almost 19% of seniors still live in poverty? That?s nearly 7 million seniors.This recession has hit America?s retirees especially hard as they?ve seen their savings decimated, home values plummet, healthcare costs skyrocket and face potentially two years with no cost of living increase.However, the fiscal hawks in Washington who hope to use seniors? programs (especially Social Security) to balance the federal books, seldom mention these fiscal facts. Today in celebration of Older Americans month, we?re joining other senior issues bloggers led by Wider Opportunities for Womenfor a day of blogging on the fiscalrealities facing America?s seniors. It?s vital that we understand more about our nation?s fiscal picture than what we?re being told by those leading a billion dollar crusade to cut Social Security.The American people have been bombarded with a steady stream of pronouncements that Social Security is bankrupt, broken, or just too generous.In truth, what these folks really mean is that they don?t Washington to honor its obligations to the Social Security trust fund. America?s seniors want fiscal sanity to return to Washington but there?s nothing sane about cutting programs, which touch the lives of virtually every American family, while ignoring the true causes of our current fiscal failures.Today, the President?s Fiscal Commission holds its second public meeting following a month?s worth of closed-door meetings. We?ve written extensively about this commission, it?s mission, and member makeupbefore. Our President/CEO, Barbara Kennelly, also continues to remindeveryone thatSocial Security isn?t the trouble and it shouldn?t be the target:
?If this commission?s goal is to get our nation?s fiscal house in order then its attention should be on programs which contribute to our debt and the revenue reforms necessary to improve the federal balance sheet. Unfortunately, too much attention thus far has been focused on using Social Security as the piggy bank for fiscal reform. Let?s be clear about this, Social Security has not contributed one dime to our current fiscal woes because that money was contributed by America?s workers over decades. Cutting benefits under the guise of ?fiscal responsibility? is anything but responsible during a time when retirees and near retirees are still suffering the effects of this recession?…Barbara B. Kennelly, President/CEO
We posted the first in a series of web videos on our YouTube channel addressing Social Security and the role it does (and in this case doesn?t ) play in our ongoing fiscal debate. ?Social Security ? Yours, Mine & Ours? reminds us all who really funds Social Security–the generations of American workers who?ve contributed $2.6 trillion dollars and counting to the Social Security trust fund. Dollars which have been promised to America?s retirees not Washington or Wall Street.Which brings us back to today?s blogging theme… America?s Budget Matters and So Does Yours. It’s vital that citizens, of all ages, take the time to educated themselves about the true causes of our current deficits and the what proposals currently being considered in Washington will mean to their day-to-day lives.