To the editor:
AARP members from across the country were in Washington last week to send a clear message to the “supercommittee” and all members of Congress that seniors aren’t numbers. We aren’t line items in a budget. And we definitely aren’t pushovers.
Right now, too few people outside Washington know that behind closed doors the supercommittee is considering proposals that would shift health care costs onto seniors and cut their Social Security checks. Instead of focusing on cutting waste and tax loopholes, they’re threatening our hard-earned Medicare and Social Security benefits.
If Congress really wants to look at numbers, it should be looking at these: 478,138 Kansans rely on Social Security, including 314,968 retirees, 65,631 people with disabilities, 40,996 widows and widowers, 36,347 children and 20,196 spouses. Social Security pumps over $522 million into the Kansas economy each month, which is the total Social Security benefits received by Kansans in December 2009.
And let’s get real. It isn’t as if the benefits of these programs are lavish. Even with these benefits, half of those aged 65 and older have an annual income of less than $18,500 per year. Today’s Medicare beneficiaries already must pay an average of $3,000 each year out of their own pockets for their medical expenses — and their out-of-pocket share is rising every single year.
We’ve talked to our members all across Kansas and it doesn’t matter if they’re Republicans, Democrats or Independents, they think it’s wrong for the supercommittee to cut the benefits they’ve worked for and depend on.