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Granite Staters Have Spoken

June 29, 2010

CONCORD, N.H. - "America Speaks" asked the questions - and Granite Staters answered them. However, not all groups are convinced they were the right questions to help the nation's economy, long-term. "America Speaks" held a national town hall-style event on Saturday linking cities across the country, and Portsmouth was included. In discussion groups, people were asked for their 'fixes' for the federal budget, and a majority supported the idea of raising the age for receiving full Social Security Benefits to 69.

Ed Coyle, executive director of the Alliance for Retired Americans, says Social Security has not added one dime to the deficit.

"It is not part of the deficit problem and frankly, I resent the fact that people try to point to Social Security or Medicare as part of the deficit problem."

Proponents of raising the retirement age cite many reasons, including people living longer and, therefore, having the ability to work longer. Coyle says not all jobs or people are the same, and that for physical labor as an example, many would not be able to continue working past today's early retirement age of 62.

Nancy Altman, co-director of the group Social Security Works, says Social Security doesn't affect the deficit negatively because of the way it is structured.

"Social Security - it has no borrowing authority, it cannot pay benefits, by law, it cannot pay a single dollar of benefits, unless it has the amount of money on hand to pay those benefits."

In all, about 3500 people from across the country participated in the town hall events. Some other popular solutions included raising tax rates on corporate income and reducing defense spending.

"America Speaks" presents the results to the Commission on Fiscal Responsibility and Reform today.

Information is available at usabudgetdiscussion.org

Monique Coppola, Public News Service - NH