Twenty-sixteen, momentous election year, has arrived. Common Sense for Seniors staff will be monitoring politics right through the year, keeping seniors informed on the issues and candidates. We invite you to participate in this political discussion, using the Leave a Reply and Contact features of the website. What are your views on the issues? What information can you give our readers on the congressional candidates in your district? Which might merit our support, whether moral or financial?
Before launching this political discussion, let’s come up with a vision of what we’re looking for in 2016. What do seniors want?
First and foremost, we want to protect Social Security and Medicare – or even better, to improve these two vital programs. Social Security’s long term future beyond 2034, when funds will start to run short, needs to be assured. Benefits need to be increased – the current average monthly benefit of $1,300 doesn’t go very far, particularly for those who rely on Social Security for most or all of their income. Medicare should be expanded to cover hearing loss, dental care, and routine eye exams. It too, should be put on a sound long-term financial footing, and the program should be empowered to negotiate with drug companies over prescription medication prices.
But seniors have an interest not just in programs that benefit them directly. We are concerned about those coming after us, including our children and grandchildren, our nieces and nephews, and the kids growing up in poverty in our cities, towns, and rural areas.
We want them to be safe and secure, so we’re looking for candidates who favor common-sense gun laws and a common-sense foreign policy.
We want them to live in a country with a first-class infrastructure and good schools everywhere. We want them to have the same economic opportunities we’ve had, or better. Right now, they are falling behind. In constant dollar terms, on average, 18 to 34 year-olds are earning $2,000 less per year than in 1980 and $3,500 less than in 2000, even though the proportion with college degrees has increased from 16 per cent to 22 per cent.
There may be seniors who don’t feel any particular concern for the generations coming after us, but that’s a mistake on practical grounds. Our own financial well-being, our Social Security, and our Medicare are only safe if the economy is strong and growing – and that means we need an economy in which young people are prospering.
What would you add to this vision?
In coming months, we’ll be looking at candidates and their positions on the issues to see how they measure up to the vision we settle on. We’ll be starting with a look at the websites of the major presidential candidates. Stay tuned.