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Where We Stand

Medicare and Social Security Policies Based on Needs

3 million people shared their opinions with us

Since the You've Earned a Say effort was launched in March, more than 5 million people have engaged in this national conversation about the future of Medicare and Social Security. Our goal has been clear. We set out to make sure that you have a voice in this debate and to help make your voice heard. We helped voters cut through the attack ads and 30-second sound bites to learn for themselves what the candidates were proposing and what those proposals would mean for voters and their families, now and in the future.

All told, more than 3 million people filled out questionnaires about the future of Medicare and Social Security; more than 125,000 people attended You've Earned a Say events throughout the country; more than 550,000 people visited our website, which contained our AARP Voter Guides and expert third-party analysis; and millions more followed our coverage of these issues in the AARP Bulletin.

You spoke, and even though Washington wasn't always listening, we were. The message that came through loud and clear is this: People rely on Medicare and Social Security for health and financial security. They want these programs to remain strong, not just for themselves but for future generations. They understand that in order for that to happen, Republicans and Democrats need to work together to ensure the long-term solvency and adequacy of Medicare and Social Security.

Rita, in Hartwell, Ga., wrote: "I am 84 years old and both Medicare and Social Security have served me well. I want the same for my children. There has to be a way to make both work for them." And Philip, in Fort Morgan, Colo., summed it up well: "They 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."

So, with the election behind us and some tough economic decisions looming, what do we tell leaders in the new Congress and administration? We tell them what you have told us: It's time to come together to find sensible solutions to the challenges facing Medicare and Social Security based on people's needs, not just budget numbers.

A budget is not an end in itself. It is simply a reflection of our nation's priorities and goals. We cannot make budget choices without considering the consequences of those choices. Leaving future generations with a large debt will not serve our children well. But leaving them with less economic security by weakening Social Security and Medicare would be just as bad, if not worse.

Decreasing the federal deficit at the expense of current and future Medicare and Social Security beneficiaries ignores the public's overwhelming support for these programs. President Obama and Congress must think about what future generations will need for a secure retirement. They must work together and focus on our larger national goals of economic growth, health and financial security, and enacting affordable policies to meet those goals. Yes, we do need to make adjustments to Medicare and Social Security, but we need to do so without compromising the health and well-being of the nation or undermining the values that Americans cherish.

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