Already our national You've Earned a Say conversation has generated enthusiasm and engagement. That's what I found when I was in Richmond, Va., for the March 19 kickoff, where more than 150 people talked about the future of Social Security and Medicare and insisted they must have a voice in how the challenges to these two critical programs are addressed.
Hundreds of people 50-plus who flocked to similar events held the same day in Denver, Miami and Columbus, Ohio, enthusiastically agreed. Their message was crystal clear: they want and need Social Security and Medicare. They realize the importance of these programs today. Their children and grandchildren will rely on them as much, if not more, tomorrow.
Since that initial launch, we have held more than 400 events in communities nationwide and have reached out to AARP members through tele-town halls and our publications and website. At last count, over half a million people have engaged in the You've Earned a Say conversation, including nearly 400,000 who completed questionnaires.
One message that comes through loud and clear is that older Americans are tired of Washington playing politics with these programs. As one member from Albuquerque, N.M., put it, "I and millions of Americans have earned these benefits. I have worked and paid in since I was 13 years old." In short, people don't view Social Security and Medicare as "entitlements." They're benefits people have earned and expect to receive.
The biggest concern is about the future of Social Security and Medicare. A member from Mesa, Ariz., put it this way: "I worry that there will be nothing left by the time I need it." Still, members are unwavering in their desire to see them strengthened for future generations.
People do recognize that Social Security and Medicare need changes. A member from Fort Collins, Colo., wrote, "They are important social care programs that were well designed, but now need some changes to ensure their continuation at a reliable level. I want to be able to depend on both programs when I am ready and need them."
But many people are telling us that they don't know what the options are for strengthening the programs. Nor do they feel that anyone in Washington is looking at how proposed changes would affect real people; they believe that politicians are only thinking about how to make the numbers work. That not only makes people nervous, it makes them skeptical.
This is why it's so important for you to get involved and to make your voice heard. You can let Washington know that decisions politicians make regarding Social Security and Medicare do affect real people. They affect you and your family today and for generations to come. You've Earned a Say! Together, we'll make sure that Washington hears you.
You may also like: Official You've Earned a Say Website.