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AARP North Dakota: "Leave Social Security Out of Debt Ceiling Talks"

July 13, 2011

BISMARCK, N.D. - AARP leaders from across the nation have converged on Washington today to tell Congress to keep debt-ceiling negotiations separate from the debate about possible changes to Social Security and Medicare.

Janis Cheney, AARP's North Dakota state director, says they know reforms need to be made in both programs, so that isn't the issue.

"Our point is that those should not be made in the context of this debt-ceiling negotiation that's going on, that the Social Security program and the Medicare program deserve their own thoughtful, careful, intentional discussion before any adjustments are made to those programs."

Another reason the two issues shouldn't mix, she says, is because Social Security holds its own.

"Social Security does not contribute to the deficit. It has not, and isn't designed in a way that will."

A majority of the nearly 120,000 people in North Dakota who receive Social Security rely on the checks for at least half of their monthly income.

"It provides a foundation of security for people in retirement, and it is absolutely essential for the well-being of thousands of North Dakotans that that program be maintained and solvent for years to come."

Even without any changes, Cheney says, Social Security will be solvent through 2036. She says it's a separate issue from concerns that the U.S. could default on its debt obligations if the debt ceiling isn't raised by Aug. 2.

John Michaelson, Public News Service - ND