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Rebuilding the Middle Class: A Blueprint for the Future

AARP CEO A. Barry Rand offers a plan for financial security

For all of those who say Social Security has contributed to the deficit, you are wrong.

I received a letter from Philip, an AARP member in Fort Morgan, Colo., who summed it up well.  Social Security and Medicare, he said, “are the foundation of most Americans’ future.  Rightly or wrongly, they are.  We can make them secure, but it won’t happen if we don’t find ways to reach a bipartisan solution.”

That is our challenge.

We must approach rebuilding the middle class holistically.  Issues like health care costs, jobs, savings, income security, the cost of education and the affordability of housing are all part of the total life experience of individuals and families.  They are interrelated.  How we deal with one affects the others.

They are also intergenerational.

  • The high cost of college has an impact on parents who are paying more for college.
  • Young adults who can’t find jobs or afford their own housing often move back into their parents’ homes.
  • Many adults are not only supporting their young-adult children, but also caring for their aging parents.  For some families this is a choice.  For many others, however, it is the cost of the middle-class decline.  Either way, it’s all interrelated.

Finally, this is not just about economics.  A strong middle class is the bedrock of a functioning society.  An ever-widening gap between the” haves” and the “have nots” leads to instability in families and in society and makes it much more difficult for people to move up the socio-economic ladder, achieve the American Dream and live their best life.

So, in the end, we have to ask ourselves:  “What kind of America do we want?  What kind of life do we want for our kids and grandkids?

For AARP the answer is clear:  We want a society in which everyone lives with dignity and purpose and fulfills their goals and dreams — a life with access to affordable, quality health care and the opportunity to achieve lifelong financial security — a life where everyone has a realistic chance to pursue and achieve the American Dream whether they are young or old.

Former Congresswoman Barbara Jordan put it this way, “What people want is very simple … they want an America as good as its promise.”

To create an “America as good as its promise,” we have to rebuild and restore prosperity to the middle class.  At AARP, we’re committed to that goal.

  • We’re committed to helping all workers achieve their goals — whether that means finding a way to succeed in today’s challenging workforce, or finding a way to turn their life’s passion into their life’s work by starting their own business.
  • We’re committed to improving Medicare to make it sustainable and slowing the growth of costs throughout the health care system.
  • We’re committed to strengthening Social Security by restoring long-term solvency while maintaining adequacy.
  • We’re committed to finding ways to help close the gap between what people have saved and what they will need to live in retirement.
  • We’re committed to reducing the deficit, but not by putting the health and financial security of current and future generations at risk.

In short, we’re committed to rebuilding and restoring prosperity to the middle class.

Thank you.

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