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Blog: Rick's AARP Responses


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Social Security Solvency

All government programs are under pressure in the wake of the Bush-Cantor financial crisis, and many folks worry Social Security is under threat. The truth is that we can protect Social Security by following a sound overall fiscal policy that is structurally balanced.

Nevertheless, there are those who would change the most successful anti-poverty program in history to further their ideological aims, but the American people are not fooled by the almost magical claims made for privatization.

While it is fine for folks who can to invest additional retirement savings in the stock market, we must reject the idea that the future of hard-working Americans should be left to the ups and downs of financial markets. Some say we should allow younger workers to invest some of their Social Security withholdings in private accounts, but doing so is just a way to transition into privatization. If younger workers do not continue to pay into the system, it will fail.

Deficit Reduction and Social Security

We must return the federal budget to a state of structural balance, and Social Security's detractors hold the program up as a symbol of fiscal irresponsibility. In fact, health care costs are a much bigger long term liability for the US Government than Social Security.

FDR realized when he created Social Security that everyone had to benefit in order for it to be passed with broad support. It is not welfare; it is a benefit we earn by paying into the system. As such, anyone who pays into the system should receive the benefit to which they are entitled. Social Security is too important to be subjected to cuts. While it is important to reduce the federal deficit, we should apply cuts to other, less effective programs.

Medicare Fraud

Controlling health care costs is paramount to returning the federal budget to structural balance, which will foster sustained economic growth while protecting the solvency of important programs like Medicare. So many politicians have promised for so long to save the taxpaying public untold sums by combating "waste, fraud, and abuse" that this phrase has become a tired cliché.

However Medicare is such a large program that even a small percentage of total Medicare dollars lost to fraud represents and enormous sum. I endorse recent efforts to crack down on Medicare fraud and I would be open to exploring additional legislation when I am in Congress.

Physician Access for Medicare Beneficiaries

As an advocate of universal health care for Americans of all ages, I cannot accept a system where folks who have worked hard and paid into the system their whole lives cannot locate a provider who will accept Medicare. Universal access means just that -- everyone can see the doctor they need to see. I support strengthening the recent health care reforms to ensure that Medicare beneficiaries have universal access.

Additional Question:

"Since the recession began, Americans have been hit with devastating job losses, shrinking retirement savings, declining home values and rising health care costs -- many older Americans nearing retirement have been disproportionately impacted. What is your plan to help older workers get back to work and to improve economic security for people of all generations?"

Increased federal support for education will be a major objective for me as soon as I am sworn into office. I am strongly in favor of fully funding retraining programs to assist older workers who have lost their jobs. I also believe that we must have robust programs at the federal and state level that harness the experience of older workers to help educate and train young Americans in high schools, community colleges, and in apprenticeship or mentorship programs early in their careers. It can be a win/win situation where older workers can go back to work part time or full time while younger Americans will gain a competitive advantage over their competitors in other nations.

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