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AARP on President’s Budget Summit: “Now is the time to put our economic security back on track”

February 23, 2009

Contact: Jim Dau or Jordan McNerney, AARP, 202-434-2560, jdau@aarp.org, or jmcnerney@aarp.org

WASHINGTON—AARP CEO Bill Novelli released the following statement in advance of the White House Fiscal Responsibility Summit. He will attend the summit to represent AARP’s 40 million members.

“The fiscal crisis facing the nation today demands urgent action from the government, the private sector and individuals. We are pleased to participate in today’s Summit, and we commend the President for hosting such a critical discussion at this important time. We look forward to a productive day of discussion and conclusions.

“The long-run budgetary outlook is bleak, largely because of soaring, system-wide health care spending. Uncontrolled health care costs are the biggest long-term threat to our economy. Health costs drive spending increases not only in federal health care programs, but for state governments, employers and individuals. As OMB Director Orszag often reminds us, we have a health care problem, not just an entitlement problem.

“If Washington continues on its current path, and health care costs continue to rise, the federal budget deficit will grow from 10 percent of GDP in 2030 to nearly a quarter of GDP in 2050. These dates may seem far off, but if we want to prevent fiscal catastrophe, then we must act now.

“Without addressing our health care crisis, we cannot emerge from this economic crisis, nor can we achieve long-term fiscal balance.

“From a self-employed couple in North Carolina struggling to hang on to insurance until they retire, to a single mother with no insurance in Michigan who prays she doesn’t get sick because she can’t afford a day off from work, everyone knows this country is spending too much on health care and getting too little in return. The time to act is now.

“Beyond health care spending, today’s summit will also address the other bedrock of retirement: Social Security. The recent economic crisis has reinforced the critical importance of Social Security. We must act to strengthen Social Security for the future, and our members understand that will mean a combination of taking in additional revenues and adjusting benefits that are paid out. The sooner we act, the less drastic those changes will be, but political courage will determine whether a balanced package is truly possible.

“We again commend the President for his leadership, and especially for his commitment to tackling the critical issue of containing health care costs – the biggest problem facing federal spending, employer bottom lines, and the budgets of millions of American families. Now is the time to put our economic security back on track, and it starts by addressing health care so that we don’t saddle our children and grandchildren with the consequences of our inaction.”

AARP is a nonprofit, nonpartisan membership organization that helps people 50+ have independence, choice and control in ways that are beneficial and affordable to them and society as a whole. AARP does not endorse candidates for public office or make contributions to either political campaigns or candidates. We produce AARP The Magazine, the definitive voice for 50+ Americans and the world's largest-circulation magazine with over 34.5 million readers; AARP Bulletin, the go-to news source for AARP's 40 million members and Americans 50+; AARP Segunda Juventud, the only bilingual U.S. publication dedicated exclusively to the 50+ Hispanic community; and our website, AARP.org. AARP Foundation is an affiliated charity that provides security, protection, and empowerment to older persons in need with support from thousands of volunteers, donors, and sponsors. We have staffed offices in all 50 states, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, and the U.S. Virgin Islands.

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