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Opinion Letters Cuts could have disastrous effect on seniors

For more than 50 years AARP has been fighting to ensure older Americans have affordable health care and financial security in retirement. We are committed to protecting and strengthening Medicare and Social Security so today’s seniors and future generations will get the benefits they’ve earned through their lifetimes of paying into the system.

These benefits are being threatened. There are proposals being considered by Congress right now that would make harmful cuts to Medicare and Social Security as part of a deal to pay the nation’s bills.

We’re not just talking about budget numbers here. We’re talking about cuts that could have a disastrous impact on real people! Contrary to what some are claiming, these cuts could dramatically increase health care costs for today’s seniors — yes, those who now are 55 and over-threatening their access to doctors, hospitals and nursing homes, and reducing the benefit checks they rely on to pay their bills. It’s as simple and straightforward as that.

Here’s something else that’s simple and straightforward: We’re not going to let it happen. AARP will fight to prevent Congress from making these harmful cuts to Medicare and Social Security as part of any deal to pay the nation’s bills.

Of course Congress needs to make some tough choices to address our large and growing debt, but not by hurting today’s seniors and future retirees. There’s a better way to reduce the deficit. Instead of cutting the benefits America’s seniors have earned. Congress needs to start making the right decisions about our nation’s future priorities, beginning by cutting tax loopholes and special interest tax breaks for companies that make billions of dollars in profits, but pay little or no taxes. Estimates are that all tax breaks and loopholes cost the federal government roughly $1 trillion each year.

Why would cuts to Medicare and Social Security be so harmful? Today’s Medicare beneficiaries already pay an average of $5,500 each year out of their own pockets for their medical expenses. And it’s rising every year. And Social Security’s benefits already are modest by any standard. Today, the average Social Security retirement benefit is only about $14,000 a year. The average annual benefit for retired women is even less — about $12,000.

Our seniors have spent decades paying into the system. They’ve earned the peace of mind that comes with being assured that Congress won’s make harmful cuts to their Medicare and Social Security benefits.

Dorothy Crawford
North Carolina AARP Advocacy Council, Franklin

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