Social Security deserves top billing this election cycle

Published 10:54 am Wednesday, June 8, 2016

A Commentary By Bob Jackson, AARP Texas Director
Keeping Social Security strong and solvent for current and future generations is too important to be lost in the fog of campaign season.

It’s crucial that Texans, especially the 13 million of us currently paying into Social Security, listen carefully to and carefully consider presidential candidates’ plans for keeping Social Security resilient.

The stakes are high. According to the Social Security Trustees, benefits will be cut by nearly 25 percent by 2034 if no action is taken. In addition, millions of families today have precious little savings set aside as they near retirement. Pensions are becoming a rare commodity, and health care costs are on the upswing. What’s more, younger workers are increasingly dubious about the program that’s been a backbone of retirement security for generations of Americans and think that Social Security may be an empty promise for them.

Every year our leaders wait and do nothing, finding a solution grows more difficult. So the sooner adjustments are made, the smaller and less abrupt they will have to be. And it all starts with presidential leadership.

But regardless of who is next in the White House, Congress will have a key role to play. Two members of the Texas delegation are key leaders with notable sway over Social Security’s future: U.S. Rep. Kevin Brady of Conroe, chairman of the powerful House Ways and Means Committee, and U.S. Rep. Sam Johnson of Plano, chairman of the Social Security Subcommittee.

In November, Texans will elect or re-elect 36 men and women to represent them in Washington. As the candidates campaign in their home districts over the next few months, it’s a great time to learn where they stand on the future of Social Security. A key question to ask is: Will you take action to update Social Security so it is financially sound and provides adequate income for current and future generations?

Elections have consequences. Amid the noise and the insults that will fill the airwaves in the weeks and months ahead, take the time to think about the issues that really are important to you. Since 1935 when the law was passed, Social Security has been one of them, lifting millions out of poverty and allowing them to retire with dignity.

As engaged citizens, I believe we have a duty to do our part to keep Social Security strong for ourselves, our children and grandchildren.

Bob Jackson is the director of AARP Texas. AARP is a nonpartisan, nonprofit advocacy organization with a membership of more than 38 million, including 2.2 million Texans.