AARP members are calling on candidates for U.S. Senate Scott Brown (R) and Elizabeth Warren (D) to provide specifics on how they intend to strengthen Medicare and Social Security. AARP is non-partisan.
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“Tell us your plan for Medicare and Social Security,’’ read a sign held by Chris Ewen, 52, of Cambridge, before the first debate between the two candidates.
Ewen works as a disc jockey at T.T. the Bear’s Place in Cambridge, hosting an eighties dance night. He said he hears assurances made for those 55 years and older, but wonders about people like himself.
“I’m kind of right on that border and I’m really concerned about how Medicare and Social Security will be protected for me,” he said. “At our age, it’s really, really important that the money that we put into this throughout our lives does come back.”
He said he wants to hear what solutions the candidates propose to keep the programs going for the long term.
Candidates reluctant to give details
Brown, a Republican who won the seat in a special election following the death of Sen. Edward Kennedy, and Warren, a Democrat and Harvard professor, have both said they want to protect Medicare and Social Security, but have been short on specifics.
During a news conference following the first Senate candidate debate on September 20, Brown’s Campaign Manager Jim Barnett said the retirement age for younger workers may need to be adjusted, as would possibly the calculations used to determine benefits for higher-income workers. Warren declined to address specific cost-saving proposals.
Families say they count on Medicare, Social Security
AARP Massachusetts State President Linda Fitzgerald, of Springfield, said her family has three generations depending on Medicare and Social Security. She and her husband, who are retired, have a son who has a disability and a 15-year-old grandson who receives Social Security survivor benefits.
"Social Security, it's fine now and it's fine 25 years out, but we want to make sure that our children and grandchildren and great grandchildren have access to both Social Security and Medicare," she said. “I would like to see more specificity.’’
Irene Euchler wants more details about specific proposals. “I’d like to hear what they have to say about Medicare. The talk about a voucher program with Medicare, that terrifies me,” said Irene Euchler, a cancer survivor.
Looking for straight answers
Jane Ahern DeFillippi, a semi-retired nurse from Melrose, where she is on the board of the Council on Aging, said she also wants answers.
“With all the 30-second ads, with all the gobbledegook, with everyone saying ‘my opponent’, I’d like to hear straight answers from each of them to say what is it they would like to do,” she said. “We want to hear the straight answers of how Scott Brown and Elizabeth Warren would strengthen Social Security and Medicare.
“We’d like to hear specifics and that certainly impacts how we would choose to vote. I believe that there really is not a need to increase the retirement age especially considering that there is blatant ageism happening today. Now if we say that you can’t retire until much later, where are these people going to be working?’’ she asked.
Voters go to the polls Nov. 6.
Be in the know before you vote
Find out where the candidates for President, U.S. Senate - including Scott Brown and Elizabeth Warren - and U.S. Representative stand on Medicare, Social Security and financial security. Visit earnedasay.org before Election Day.