Friday, July 22, 2011
Wednesday, July 20, 2011
Since childhood I have always felt a special bonding and passion towards elderly. I would patiently listen to their stories and enjoy their company which has made me a very empathetic and compassionate human being. Since the age of 9, I would visit Hospice residents and buy gifts for them from my savings. After visiting the residents for 5 years, I was awarded at the top of the Hospice donor tree.
I also started volunteering with my mom through Mease Hospital's friend to friend program, where we assist homebound, sick elders with medication and grocery shopping. One day Delores an 82 yrs old senior called asking for milk. When my mom & I went to deliver it we saw two milk gallons already sitting in her refrigerator. When I asked about them, she said she was feeling very lonely and was longing for company. I understood and thought about research pointing out the increased suicide rate among seniors due to isolation.
One day when we visited Ruby, 97 yrs old, she opened the door and started crying. Finally she said. “You know I lost my husband 18 yrs ago.” We responded yes we know. She said “You know I lost my only son about a year ago,” we said yes we know. She said “You know what? Today I lost my only grandson who died in an accident. I do not know why God left me and took my baby boy. I was feeling very sad, and was not sure how I would pass my day today, I am thankful the Lord sent you to me.” There are hundreds of seniors awaiting a visit. Some are in dire need of love and hand hold or a shoulder to cry on.
Increased longevity and the extremely busy lifestyles of many families have made our most valuable seniors very isolated and vulnerable. The Michigan University research of May 28, 2010, shows youth’s empathy has dropped by 40% in 20 years. Seeing this statistic I decided to implement the bonding of these two generations to decrease the suicide rate amongst the elderly and increase empathy among the youth of today.
|Lavera & Ishan|
Monday, July 18, 2011
To help arm intergenerational advocates with the truth about this issue, we’ve highlighted some facts everyone should know about this important program.
1. Social Security is NOT going bankrupt. Social Security has a $2.6 trillion surplus and can pay full benefits through 2036 without any changes. Furthermore, relatively modest changes could be made and would place the program on a sound financial footing for 75 years and beyond. To read more about these recommendations, check out the National Academy of Social Insurance (NASI) publication: Strengthening Social Security for the Long Run.
2. Social Security did not cause the deficit. Social Security has its own funding stream and did not contribute to the deficit. It should not be cut to reduce a deficit it did not cause. Because Social Security operates from a dedicated self-funding stream, it is projected to be fully solvent until 2036.
3. Social Security will be there for you. Social Security has never missed a payment in 75 years. It is 100% solvent for the next 25 years and, in the highly unlikely case that Congress did not act before 2036, Social Security could still pay about three-fourths of benefits thereafter. With minor changes, Social Security can be solvent for years to come.
4. Social Security is more than a retirement program. It provides essential protections for people of all ages. Social Security pays more benefits to children than any other federal program, protecting 98 percent of the children in the U.S. in the event that they lose a parent. More than 6.5 million children receive part of their family income from Social Security.
5. Social Security benefits are modest. As politicians continue to discuss Social Security reform, it’s important to note that cuts to Social Security would dramatically affect an individual’s benefits. Social Security benefits are much more modest than many people realize. In June 2010, the average Social Security retirement benefit is about $14,000 a year. (The average disabled worker and aged widow received slightly less.)
6. Americans would rather pay more than see benefits cut. 87 percent of all Americans agree that they don’t mind paying for Social Security because of the security and stability it provides to millions of Americans. (Survey sponsored by NASI and Rockefeller Foundation in Fall 2009).
7. Almost half of all seniors would be poor without Social Security. Social Security lifts 13 million older adults age 65 and older out of poverty.
8. For many grandfamilies, Social Security is essential to their families’ survival. Social Security is a safeguard for families when tragedy strikes. The vast majority of grandparent caregivers did not plan to raise another family and unexpectedly find themselves caring for their grandchildren. Many of these grandparents live on fixed incomes and find themselves forced to make decisions between paying for diapers and formula for the children or prescription drugs for themselves. Even with Social Security benefits, 22 percent of grandparent-headed families are poor. Without Social Security benefits, the group’s poverty rate would be 59 percent or more. Read more about what’s at stake for grandfamilies in our publication: What’s at Stake for Children, Youth, and Grandfamilies.
9. Changes already enacted will cut Social Security benefits by 19 percent for future retirees. In the 1980s, Congress enacted changes to ensure the long-term solvency of Social Security. Those changes cut retirement benefits by 19 percent for workers born in 1960 and later, and more cuts could undermine the basic economic security of future retirees. To help educate the public and Members of Congress on this complex issue, NASI recently released a report on the effects of this piece of legislation.
10. Social Security should be strengthened, not cut.
Generations United believes the best way to invest in and protect our nation’s most vulnerable citizens is to strengthen Social Security, not cut it. Social Security plays a critical role in providing economic security and indispensable protections for children, families, and retirees. Social Security provides vital support for children, in addition to older adults, covering 98 percent of all children in the event of the death or disability of a caregiver.
In order to improve Social Security for future generations, Generations United continues to advocate for one low-cost recommendation that would strengthen Social Security for future generations: reinstating the student benefit. Restoring the Social Security student benefit would offer students whose parents are deceased and disabled the support they need to become the educated workforce our country’s economy needs. To read more about our recommendation, download our publication Social Security: What's at Stake for Children, Youth, and Grandfamilies.
This article is the final installment in Generations United’s Budget Blog Series.
Thursday, July 14, 2011
Repealing the Affordable Care Act
Repealing the new health care law would remove access to affordable, high-quality, comprehensive health care coverage for children, youth, people with disabilities, families and older adults. Without this historic piece of legislation, insurance companies will go back to denying coverage to individuals with pre-existing conditions. Women may be charged more than men for insurance, simply because of their gender. And, families may continue to go without the affordable, quality care they deserved. Moreover, repealing the ACA would not lower health care costs. In fact, a recent report estimates that state governments will actually save $90 billion from 2014 to 2019 because of implementation of the ACA’s major reforms.
Chairman Ryan Gets Nearly Two-Thirds of His Huge Budget Cuts From Programs for Lower-Income Americans
House-Passed Proposal to Block-Grant and Cut SNAP (Food Stamps) Rests on False Claims About Program Growth
Wednesday, July 13, 2011
1. The national debt itself is not a measure of financial impact across generations.
What is important is how the debt affects the economy at the time when the government borrows the money. Whether or not the national debt will be detrimental to future generations is determined by the quality of the society that we pass on. If the debt is increased by positive investments (such as education and health care) we ensure a healthier workforce and the future economy will benefit as a result.
2. During periods of economic weakness, deficit spending actually can grow the economy.
While a deficit can in principle lead to higher interest rates and lower productivity when the economy is functioning near capacity, it actually can help bolster the economy during a downturn. The primary issue during a recession is a lack of demand. Government spending and/or tax cuts at that time can increase demand as well as output and employment. Higher output means that companies will invest more and that future generations will be made wealthier as a result.
3. The majority of the forecasted budget deficit problem is caused by high and rising costs in the private healthcare sector.
The federal government pays out over half of the country’s total health care costs via Medicare, Medicaid, and other related programs. Most of that money goes to the private health care sector. The cost of this care in the coming years is projected to rise far more rapidly than our current rate of economic growth. If we can find a way to control the increasing cost of health care, then the budget deficit will become much more manageable.
The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (ACA) signed into law by President Obama on March 23, 2010 takes significant steps to reduce the increasing cost of health care by ensuring that all Americans have access to preventative care services and affordable coverage. By creating incentives to treat health care issues earlier and in primary care facilities, rather than costly emergency rooms, the ACA will reduce health care costs considerably over time; most of these changes will occur beginning in 2014, with the introduction of state-based “exchanges,” marketplaces where consumers and small business owners can purchase affordable health insurance, much like shopping online for a plane ticket or a hotel room. According to a recent study by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, state governments will spend at least $90 billion less from 2014 to 2019 because of the ACA’s reforms.
4. Social Security has its own funding stream, and it will be fully funded until 2036.
Some people have suggested fixing the deficit by cutting into Social Security. In reality, Social Security did not contribute to the deficit, and it should not be cut to reduce a deficit it did not cause. Because Social Security operates from a dedicated self-funding stream, it is projected to be fully solvent until 2036.
Much of the current debate around the national deficit has focused on the idea of cutting into Social Security to help alleviate the current and projected budgetary shortfalls. Generations United strongly opposes that course of action. It makes little sense to cut benefits from a program that has proven itself to be self-sustaining, especially a program like Social Security that is so valuable to all generations. Furthermore, the amount of the deficit that could be reduced by cutting into Social Security pales in comparison to the amount of the deficit that could be reduced by letting the tax cuts of the early 2000s expire or reducing the spending allocated to conflicts overseas and addressing the rising private health care costs.
5. A constitutional balanced budget amendment means cuts to critical programs.
A balanced budget amendment to the U.S. Constitution would threaten our economic security while raising a host of problems for the operation of Social Security and other vital federal functions. Requiring a balanced budget every year, no matter the state of the economy, would raise serious risks of tipping weak economies into recession and making recessions longer and deeper, causing very large job losses. That’s because the amendment would force policymakers to cut spending, raise taxes, or both just when the economy is weak or already in recession — the exact opposite of what good economic policy would advise.
Generations United hopes that these five key points have answered some of the questions that our members may have had concerning the national debt and deficit.
For more information on these issues, please visit the following sites:
Center on Budget and Policy Priorities
Center for Economic and Policy Research
This article is the first installment in Generations United’s Budget Blog Series.