MANCHESTER, N.H.-New Hampshire senior citizens, their families, and neighbors should do their homework and vote in self-defense on November 4! Some candidates running for federal office are on record as supporting cuts to our Social Security and Medicare. They say our safety net is going broke. Some want these programs to go away completely, being replaced by vouchers and Wall Street accounts.
Others propose cuts using the Chained Consumer Price Index, and repeal of the Affordable Care Act, including the prescription drug donut hole fix and no co-pay preventative care additions.
But Social Security is not going broke, and a few changes that would be good for all of us would be good for the Social Security Trust Fund as well: raise the minimum wage, enact paycheck equity laws at the federal level (thank you New Hampshire for doing this for women here), create more and better paying jobs, and raising or getting rid of the cap on the income that is subject to the FICA tax, now set at $117,000. Each of these means not only more money for retiree earned benefits, but also more money in the trust fund today.
Medicare’s cost curve is bending down due in part to the changes in the Affordable Care Act. Costs for healthcare for everyone are not rising anywhere near as quickly, and as healthcare providers work for quality care rather than quantity care, costs will continue to ease. We can provide great preventative care and make sure that we aren’t getting procedures and prescriptions that we don’t need, and stay healthier longer.
One in five New Hampshire residents got Social Security benefits in 2013, bringing $4.1 billion dollars in income into our state. Over 231,000 of us receive Medicare benefits, allowing us to remain healthy and contribute to our communities. These earned benefits mean that families and communities do not have to worry about carrying the full cost of housing, food and healthcare for those who are retired or disabled.
Before we had Social Security and Medicare, half the seniors in our country lived in poverty, and many died what we would consider today premature deaths. Families struggled to support those who could no longer work. Today the income from these benefits is spent in our communities, supporting the businesses here.
Without the income from Social Security and the healthcare savings from Medicare, how will our economy replace the customers with money to spend that provide the “demand” side of supply and demand? Replacing the $4.1 billion dollars that comes from those 1 in every 5 New Hampshire residents isn’t going to be easy, and our state is growing older every year. Do we really want to do that to our economy?
Healthy and secure seniors provide many hours of volunteer time, the unpaid work that we depend on to run our municipalities, among other efforts. Our school boards, selectboards, planning boards, conservation commissions, and others are either paid a small stipend or serve for free. Retirees volunteer in schools, at churches, and even as $100 a year legislators! Sometimes it seems that New Hampshire runs on volunteer power!
The New Hampshire Alliance for Retired Americans has joined our national Alliance in endorsing Senator Jeanne Shaheen, and Congresswomen Carol Shea-Porter and Ann McLane Kuster for re-election this November. All three were endorsed for their work to preserve and protect our senior safety net for all New Hampshire citizens, retirees of today and our children and grandchildren. Be sure you check out the candidates before you vote! Look at voting records, if they have served before. See what they have said in this and past campaigns. Make sure you know who is really on our side and vote in self-defense!
Lucy Edwards is president of the New Hampshire Alliance for Retired Americans
Photo: New Hampshire Alliance for Retired Americans in action to protect Social Security. Jenny Kenny.