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AARP Brings Fight for Social Security to Cleveland

AARP has launched an effort to get all candidates seeking national office to commit to safeguarding Social Security. (LarryHW/iStockphoto)
AARP has launched an effort to get all candidates seeking national office to commit to safeguarding Social Security. (LarryHW/iStockphoto)
July 21, 2016

CHEYENNE, Wyo. – Reforming entitlement programs is a contentious topic, and most public officials don't want to go near what some call the third rail of U.S. politics.

In response, AARP has launched an effort to get all candidates seeking national office to commit to safeguarding Social Security.

John Hishta, AARP’s senior vice president for campaigns, was at the Republican National Convention this week, and says now is the best time to start the debate.

"So voters across the country and in Wyoming can get a sense of what the candidates are saying about the issue and what solutions they're offering,” he states. “We believe now is the time for the country to address the issues facing Social Security."

The last time Social Security was adjusted to ensure long-term solvency was during the Reagan administration.

Hishta says the goal of AARP’s Take a Stand campaign is to get every candidate to put at least one plan on the table that would make Social Security financially sound so future generations get adequate benefits.

Hishta adds AARP isn't advocating for any particular plan or candidate, but he says it's time to move the program into the 21st century.

Hishta notes keeping Social Security strong also makes good business sense. The program contributes almost $2 billion annually to Wyoming's economy, according to AARP research conducted in 2012.

Hishta says if public officials don't take action, future retirees could lose up to $10,000 a year. He says those cuts would be devastating for the vast majority of the state's recipients who get by on an average of $1,200 a month.

"The system has worked really well for 80 years and it can continue to work well for future generations as long as politicians are willing to come together and deal with the issue now as opposed to later," he stresses.

An AARP report found just under half of Wyoming retirees would be living below the poverty line if not for Social Security. And while most of the benefits go to seniors, nearly a third of all recipients are children, people with disabilities and widows or widowers.



Eric Galatas, Public News Service - WY