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Midterm Elections Could Affect Fate of Rx, Medicare and Social Security

Posted on 02/20/18 by Christina Clem, AARP Washington

The 2018 midterm election is one of the most important in our lifetimes. Why? Because Medicare, Social Security, and other critical issues are on the line. As the largest voting bloc in the country, voters 50 and older will decide whether our elected officials get to work or put our future at risk.

Voting is one of our most essential civic duties, yet not enough people exercise their right to vote.  Only 40% of registered Washington voters cast a ballot in our August primary.  While it is true that midterm elections don’t draw as many voters as presidential elections, they are just as important. Particularly, when our current leaders are more inclined to argue instead of finding common ground and getting results.

Older voters have identified Medicare as one of the top issues this year. A critical part of the economic infrastructure of Washington, the program contributed about $11.9 billion to our state’s economy in 2017.  In fact, Medicare spending is equivalent to about 14 percent of expenditures by state and local governments and more than one million Washingtonians rely on the program for health security.

Strengthening and preserving Social Security for future generations is another important decision facing federal policymakers. There’s no doubt that Social Security continues to be a pillar of financial security for many Washingtonians. Nearly 1.3 million people are already receiving Social Security in the Evergreen State. Washingtonians earn their benefits through a lifetime of hard work. As a result, it insures families against the loss of income caused by retirement, disability, or death.

Keeping Medicare and Social Security strong and solvent for current and future generations is too important to be lost in the fog of campaign season. Sound bites and TV commercials aren’t enough to know where a candidate stands on the issues that matter to us and our families.

This month, AARP Washington is one of a number of sponsors to bring free public debates to constituents for this fall’s elections.

Washington State Debate Coalition
When: Monday, October 8, 2018, from 12:30 p.m. to 1:30 p.m.
Where: Broadcast live at 12:30 p.m. on KING 5 and KIRO 7. Delayed broadcast at 7:00 p.m. on KCTS, TVW, and KONG. Livestreamed on many Coalition partner websites. Live radio broadcast on KUOW.

Washington State Debate Coalition
When: Wednesday, October 17, 2018, from 7:00 p.m. to 8:00 p.m.
Where: This debate will be moderated by Natalie Brand (KING 5) and Ross Reynolds (KUOW). Check wadebates.org for local broadcast information.

Washington State Debate Coalition
When: Saturday, October 20, 2018 from 3:00 p.m to 4:00 p.m.
Where: The debate will be moderated by Mark Baumgarten (KCTS 9/Crosscut), Jim Camden (Spokesman Review), Mark Hanrahan (KREM), Hayley Guenthner (KHQ), and Aaron Luna (KXLY). Check wadebates.org for local broadcast information.

  1. Constituents will have an opportunity to ask important questions to help decide which candidate best represent their views on the issues. Learn more about candidate forums, town halls, and other public events at www.aarp.org/wa.

Here are some sample Medicare and Social Security question to ask your candidate.

Medicare

  1. Do you believe Medicare should be cut as a way to reduce the budget deficit?
  2. Do you favor converting Medicare to a voucher program?
  3. Do you support expanding coverage to include hearing, vision and dental care?

Social Security

  1. Are you committed to having annual cost-of-living adjustments keep up with inflation? For many, benefits aren’t staying up with their day-to-day costs.
  2. Would you raise the cap on payroll taxes? Workers pay into Social Security for the first $128,400 earned in 2018. Raising the cap would boost funding.
  3. Where do you stand on disability benefits? Some politicians want to increase funding to speed up the claims process. Others want to cut funding and encourage more people to start working again.

There are other ways to stay involved and become a more informed voter. Stay up to date on where the candidates stand by visiting their websites and researching their voting records.  You can even check candidates’ answers and factcheck.org. Visit aarp.org/vote to get more information about the issues and sign up to get reminders about voting in your district.

Finally, pledge to vote in November and ask your friends and neighbors to do the same.  AARP will be communicating to candidates the number of people in their district that have signed AARP’s pledge to vote and are committed to voting for candidates that stand for them.

Go to www.aarp.org/vote  to make your pledge.

Every vote counts, and together, we the people can hold politicians accountable and make them pay attention to issues that are important to us and our family members.  Be the difference. Vote.

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