Make Presidential Candidates Show Us They Can Lead

When the presidential candidates accept their parties’ nominations, millions of Americans will be sitting in the audience, and nearly every one of them is either paying into or receiving Social Security benefits they’ve earned. Virgin Islanders are paying into Social Security, and they deserve to know how the candidates will update Social Security for future generations.
Social Security has helped nearly 250 million Americans, many of whom were Virgin Islanders, in its 80-year history. But as America evolved, Social Security hasn’t. If our leaders don’t act, hardworking people who earned their benefits could get slammed with across-the-board cuts of 25 percent.
Why do we need to update Social Security? The average 65-year-old is living 7 years longer than in the 1930s. People are having fewer children, so there aren’t as many people paying into Social Security.
More women are working than in years past, so they are collecting more benefits from a system that wasn’t designed with the modern woman in mind. Finally, growing shares of earnings are going to those at the top of the pay scale, which means they are exempt from Social Security’s payroll tax.
It is critical candidates spell out their plans to keep Social Security strong.
Candidates need to share what their plans mean for families, what they would cost, and how they will keep the promise of Social Security for our children and grandchildren. Anybody running for president should be able to tell us how they will lead on Social Security. Voters aren’t looking for sound bites. They want answers. And the candidates’ acceptance speeches are a great time to provide them.
Social Security should not be about politics as usual. This is about solving a problem. And it’s not going to happen until today’s leaders step up, just like their predecessors did. The longer our leaders wait, the harder it will be to come up with a good solution.
The nominees will benefit if they highlight Social Security at the peak moment of their conventions. Voters recognize leadership when they see it.
By leveling with the public on Social Security in one of the most important speeches of their campaign, Clinton and Trump will give voters answers they need. And they will pass a key test of leadership in their race for the White House.
Denyce E. Singleton, AARP VI State Director
Editor’s note: AARP is a nonprofit, nonpartisan organization, with a membership of nearly 38 million, that helps people turn their goals and dreams into real possibilities, strengthens communities and fights for the issues that matter most to families, such as healthcare, employment, income security, retirement planning, affordable utilities and protection from financial abuse. It advocates for individuals in the marketplace by selecting products and services of high quality and value to carry the AARP name as well as help its members obtain discounts on a wide range of products, travel and services.
A trusted source for lifestyle tips, news and educational information, AARP produces AARP The Magazine, the world’s largest circulation magazine; AARP Bulletin; www.aarp.org; AARP TV & Radio; AARP Books; and AARP en Español, a Spanish-language website addressing the interests and needs of Hispanics.
AARP does not endorse candidates for public office or make contributions to political campaigns or candidates. The 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. AARP has staffed offices in all 50 states, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, and the U.S. Virgin Islands. Learn more at www.aarp.org.
 

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