Tuesday, May 21, 2013
St. Louis Post Dispatch
It comes as no surprise that working Americans believe Social Security and Medicare are crucial to their financial security and health in retirement and that they fear politicians are deciding the future of those programs behind closed doors.
Chicago financial planner Barbara Susin, 72, is working through her retirement years, only in part because she wants to. "Retirement is dead unless you have a couple of million dollars in your retirement savings account," Susin says.
Chris Walker/Chicago Tribune via MCT
A recent nationwide survey commissioned by AARP, the American Association of Retired People, found that 80 percent to 90 percent of those asked are worried about the so-called "entitlement programs" to which they have been contributing for most of their working lives.
On Social Security, the survey found that nonretired baby boomers feel "great economic anxiety across party lines." These preretirees' concerns were reflected in something called an "anxiety index" that measured their worries on issues such as prices rising faster than incomes, health expenses and retirement security. The group also said it felt that its economic problems were made worse by political gridlock. Those preretirees are the working people we celebrate today, baby boomers who have spent 30 or 40 years paying into safety net programs created by Democratic congresses during the New Deal (Social Security) and the Great Society (Medicare). Now, because of their vast numbers and longer lifespans and skyrocketing costs of medical care, the programs are not sustainable. AARP is a powerful lobby with 37 million members age 50 and over. Its current national education program is aimed at discouraging Congress from making what AARP considers to be unfair cuts in benefits from the two programs. AARP is promoting the program through town hall meetings, online member surveys, national advertising and visits with news organizations. With baby boomers retiring and with today's workers less likely to earn solid middle-class incomes with fewer Americans gobbling up more of the nation's wealth, this is simply not sustainable.
It is a complicated problem defying the simplistic solutions offered by pandering politicians from both parties. AARP's members have every right to be concerned. But people who are 40 years from retiring should be even more worried.