It’s time for Can­di­dates to de­bate So­cial Se­cu­rity

Maryland Independent - - Community Forum -

You wouldn’t know it from most of the news cov­er­age go­ing on, but vot­ers re­ally do want pres­i­den­tial can­di­dates to lay out their plans to keep So­cial Se­cu­rity fi­nan­cially sound for fu­ture gen­er­a­tions. That is why AARP’s Take a Stand cam­paign is call­ing on the ma­jor net­works to push the can­di­dates much harder on this im­por­tant is­sue.

In our state of Mary­land, So­cial Se­cu­rity helps thou­sands of peo­ple pay their bills, pro­vides a safety net for the needy, and keeps mil­lions in this na­tion’s mid­dle class above the poverty line. Mary­land res­i­dents de­pend on So­cial Se­cu­rity, and they want it to be there for their chil­dren and grand­chil­dren.

In their quest to un­der­stand the can­di­dates’ views on So­cial Se­cu­rity, Mary­lan­ders want to know more about pro­pos­als af­fect­ing So­cial Se­cu­rity and how each can­di­date will en­sure its fu­ture sus­tain­ment, sta­bil­ity, and re­li­a­bil­ity. Can­di­dates should talk about their views in de­tail, and re­ally help vot­ers un­der­stand how they and their fam­i­lies could be af­fected by pos­si­ble changes to So­cial Se­cu­rity. But, so far, th­ese views have not been pre­sented clearly to the citizens of this na­tion and to this state. Mod­er­a­tors from the ma­jor TV net­works have not pressed can­di­dates on the sub­ject. And, on those oc­ca­sions when So­cial Se­cu­rity has come up, can­di­dates dodge the ques­tion or speak in mean­ing­less sound­bites. A great many of citizens be­lieve it is time to go past clichés and vague gen­er­al­i­ties and have a So­cial Se­cu­rity de­bate that can help the country move for­ward.

AARP be­lieves so strongly in So­cial Se­cu­rity, that in the com­ing days, Take a Stand Vol­un­teers will be­gin to de­liver pe­ti­tions to the ma­jor net­works, urg­ing them to en­sure the topic of So­cial Se­cu­rity and its fu­ture gets its fair share of time in the po­lit­i­cal de­bates. Our vol­un­teers will also use so­cial me­dia to draw at­ten­tion to this goal. So­cial Se­cu­rity is be­com­ing even more im­por­tant in Mary­land and through­out the country as em­ployer pen­sions are van­ish­ing, and in­di­vid­u­als must rely on their own ini­tia­tives to pro­tect them­selves dur­ing their se­nior years. In a like vein, chil­dren, the dis­abled, and wi­d­ows may have to fend for them­selves when a per­sonal catas­tro­phe oc­curs, im­pact­ing their fi­nan­cial sit­u­a­tion which they may never re­cover. In ad­di­tion, more peo­ple than ever may live into their 80s, 90s, and be­yond with limited means to pay their bills. With the cur­rent plan, if a re­tiree has only So­cial Se­cu­rity in its cur­rent state, that per­son will al­most likely be liv­ing in poverty based on ex­pected longevity es­ti­mates. Kick­ing the can down the road for So­cial Se­cu­rity is not the an­swer. If our lead­ers do not act with a sen­si­ble, fea­si­ble plan crafted with de­lib­er­ate thought and hon­esty, fu­ture re­tirees could suf­fer, los­ing thou­sands a year, and liv­ing in less than de­sir­able cir­cum­stances.

So the stakes re­ally mat­ter. Es­ti­mates for So­cial Se­cu­rity in­sol­vency is ex­pected by 2034 with a cut of 25 per­cent in ben­e­fits un­der cur­rent laws and reg­u­la­tions. Pro­pos­als that can­di­dates of­fer for So­cial Se­cu­rity should be fully de­bated, and peo­ple should un­der­stand how th­ese ideas could af­fect them and their fam­i­lies. All pro­pos­als should get care­ful con­sid­er­a­tion, with a se­ri­ous dis­cus­sion of all as­pects af­fect­ing that pro­posal. Cur­rently, some can­di­dates sup­port rais­ing the re­tire­ment age, not­ing that peo­ple live longer than when So­cial Se­cu­rity was cre­ated in the 1930s. But, what hap­pens to peo­ple with phys­i­cally de­mand­ing jobs who can­not or will not be able to work longer? Some can­di­dates say So­cial Se­cu­rity ben­e­fits should be in­creased, not­ing that many re­tirees now strug­gle with low ben­e­fits that barely sus­tain them in their re­tire­ment. But how will So­cial Se­cu­rity pay for th­ese ben­e­fit in­creases given all the bud­get re­al­i­ties and fis­cal con­straints that this na­tion faces? Vot­ers should not be left in the dark about the an­swers. Amer­i­cans pay into So­cial Se­cu­rity through­out their work­ing lives, and they de­serve to know – in de­tail – how ev­ery pres­i­den­tial can­di­date would keep the prom­ise of So­cial Se­cu­rity for fu­ture gen­er­a­tions. If some­one thinks they are ready to be pres­i­dent, he or she should be will­ing to state what will be done to keep So­cial Se­cu­rity strong.

While some can­di­dates have been more forth­com­ing than oth­ers, ma­jor ques­tions re­main about all their pro­pos­als, and we urge the net­works to press the can­di­dates harder on their views to keep So­cial Se­cu­rity for the fu­ture. Hav­ing a real plan to up­date So­cial Se­cu­rity is a test of pres­i­den­tial lead­er­ship in 2016. The citizens of this na­tion de­serve to hear and un­der­stand the views of th­ese can­di­dates.

Clay­ton K. Hashimoto, Port To­bacco

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