No matter your political affiliation, if you are over 60, you might be feeling ignored. Rightfully so, over 60 issues in this election have been skimmed over or ignored completely. Neither candidate has addressed in detail Social Security reform, ageism, Medicare, or any other issues facing the baby boomer generation.
The 2016 presidential election is not address growing old in America. Of these issues, Social Security is by far the largest. 40 million people are currently collecting Social Security benefits. Statistics show that over half of workers between the ages of 55 and 64 have no retirement savings, according to the GAO and more than a third of senior citizens depend on Social Security for virtually all of their income.
As it stands, by 2033 our social security system is on track to be out of money, if nothing is done to remedy this situation, benefits are planned to be reduced by 25%. While Presidential candidates want to “fix” social security, their proposed ideas are varied. Here are some excerpts from their websites:
Hillary Clinton’s website says, “Hillary understands that there is no way to accomplish that goal without asking the highest-income Americans to pay more, including options to tax some of their income above the current Social Security cap, and taxing some of their income not currently taken into account by the Social Security system.”
Hillary is also opposed to any reduction of the annual cost-of-living adjustment and does not want to raise the retirement age — an idea she has called “unfair;” the GAO explains that any adjustments to the retirement age disproportionately hurts the poor.
She is also hoping to expand Social Security benefits for widows and citizens who had to take time out of the workforce to provide care for a child or sick family member.
While Donald Trump doesn’t propose any specific plans on Social Security reform, he believes that strengthening the U.S economy to create more jobs would generate enough payroll taxes to support the dwindling Social Security numbers. At the South Carolina GOP debate on Feb 13, 2016, Trump also said there is waste, fraud and abuse in the program. He said, “We have in Social Security thousands of people over 106 years old. You know they don’t exist. There’s tremendous waste, fraud and abuse, and we’re going to get it. But we’re not going to hurt the people who have been paying into Social Security their whole life and then all of a sudden they’re supposed to get less. We’re bringing jobs back.”
Another hard hitting issue for aging voters is Medicare, which pays for hospital visits for those over 65 and subsidizes most doctor visits, testing and prescription drugs. Most seniors pay a monthly premium, as they did with health insurance before turning 65. Many also enroll in a supplemental insurance plan, Medigap, to help cover out-of-pocket costs.
TheWeek reports that in 2010, the nation’s Medicare bill was about $524 billion, or 15.2 percent of all government spending. Medicare plans can be confusing to subscribers, one issue that is often frustrating is not knowing what is and is not covered. Among health care not covered by Medicare are eye glasses, hearing aids and dentures, in fact dental is not provided at all. One of the most frustrating parts of Medicare is not knowing what is covered. These are things that seniors need regularly. Low-income seniors are often left choosing between filling their prescriptions and buying groceries. According to Hunger in America, 30 percent of its client households with seniors said they have had to choose between paying for food and paying for medical care.
Hillary Clinton’s answers to Medicare expansion is to work on decreasing the cost of drugs by allowing Medicare to negotiate for lower prices with drug manufacturers. Americans would be able to import lower-cost drugs from foreign countries. She is also hoping to reward drug companies that invest in the development of “life-saving treatments rather than jacking up prices without innovation.”
Trump’s promise to eliminate “Obamacare” is substantiated on his website.“On day one of the Trump Administration, we will ask Congress to immediately deliver a full repeal of Obamacare.” As per the Wall Street Journal his next steps would be the following: “After the administration has been in place, then we will start to take a look at all of the programs, including entitlement programs like Social Security and Medicare,” said chief Trump policy adviser Sam Clovis. How eliminating “Obamacare” will affect Medicare is left undiscussed.
Another close issue the over 60 population voter’s mind is a surprising one- College. While people over 50 understand harrowing student debt, they are still being affected by it today. With the cost of college increasing, and student loan debt blocking college graduates the opportunity to purchase a starter home, many adult kids are still living at home. According to the Federal Reserve Bank of New York, outstanding student loan debt in the U.S. is between $902 billion and $1 trillion with about $864 billion of it owed to the federal government who loans students money. According to the College Board, the average cost of tuition and fees for the 2015 – 2016 school year was $32,405 at private colleges, $9,410 for state residents at public colleges, and $23,893 for out-of-state residents attending public universities.
The Clinton administration has a new plan called the New College Compact. Hillary says students should never have to borrow to pay for tuition, books, and fees to attend a four-year public college in their state. Under her watch, she promises that colleges and universities will be held accountable for improving outcomes and controlling costs.
Students would also need to hold their weight under this proposed plan by contributing their earnings from working 10 hours a week. Families will be asked to make “an affordable and realistic family contribution.” And the federal government will provide grants to states that commit to these goals and cut interest rates on loans. The plan also includes free college tuition at community colleges.
Trump’s website doesn’t address student debt or the costs associated with higher education. In a campaign rally in New Hampshire, he was reported saying “Just trust me.”
Age discrimination is still a thing, unfortunately. Citizens over 50 are having a harder time staying, and re-entering to the workforce. Ageism has been described as the last unaddressed prejudice in America. Age discrimination is happening and not much is being done to stop it by the EEOC. While sex is a protected class in employment under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, age is covered by the Age Discrimination in Employment Act of 1967. How do our candidates rate on this topic? They don’t. A disappointing silence on both Clinton and Trumps website.
The reason these questions are missing during debates and town halls could be an interesting one. With many town hall questions being picked from the online audience, the issues facing millennials could be overshadowing the issues facing over 60 voters. Finding out how you can get involved, submit questions that matter to you and seriously researching candidates proposals are the only way to be heard in this election.