Cooper: Take a stand on Social Security

Jackie Cooper
AARP New Mexico state president
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When the presidential candidates accepted their parties’ nominations, millions of Americans were watching, and nearly every one of them is either paying into or receiving the Social Security benefits they’ve earned.

Social Security has helped nearly 250 million Americans in its 80 year history.  But as America evolved, Social Security hasn’t.  If our leaders don’t act, future generations could face cuts of up to $10,000 a year. Hard-working people who earned their benefits would get slammed with across-the-board cuts of 25 percent.

That’s why AARP is asking candidates, both at the presidential and congressional level, to Take a Stand on updating Social Security for the future. We want to see Social Security as a top priority for the next administration and begin to talk about specific details on how that will be accomplished.

Here in New Mexico, more than 88 percent of individuals 65 plus receive Social Security benefits. If they didn’t receive those benefits more than 91,000 New Mexicans would have incomes below the poverty level.

Of the 392,306 beneficiaries in New Mexico, 63 percent are retirees while the remaining are widows and widowers, people with disabilities, spouses and children.

Why do we need to update Social Security?  The average 65 year old is living 7 years longer than in the 1930’s.  People are having fewer children, so there aren’t as many people paying into Social Security.

More women are working than in years past, so they are collecting more benefits from a system that wasn’t designed with the modern woman in mind.  Finally, a growing share of earnings is going to those at the top of the pay scale, which means they are exempt from Social Security’s payroll tax.

It is critical that both presidential and congressional candidates spell out their plans to keep Social Security strong.

Voters need to know what their plans mean for families, what they would cost, and how they will keep the promise of Social Security for our children and grandchildren.

Voters aren’t looking for sound bites. They want answers.  Anybody running for president should be able to tell us how they will lead on Social Security. And anyone running for Congress needs to be committed to doing what it takes to keep Social Security strong for the future.

Franklin Roosevelt paved the way for the new program during the Great Depression. When funds ran low many years later, Ronald Reagan worked across party lines to achieve a major overhaul.

A Democrat and a Republican – each understood the need to keep Social Security strong for future generations. Each committed themselves to action and followed through.

Join AARP New Mexico in urging your candidates to Take a Stand and ensure that updating Social Security for the future is a top priority for the new administration. To learn more visit