Mason Roberts, 92, has voted Republican for as long as he can remember ― until now. The New Jersey retiree told The Huffington Post that Donald Trump just isn’t “classy enough” to be president of the United States. “I just can’t vote for him,” he said.
Roberts isn’t the only one. According to the latest “Wall Street Journal” poll, Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton is earning the support of voters 65 and older over Trump, 44 percent to 42 percent. She was also leading in this age group in a Washington Post/ABC poll published Sept. 20 with 52 percent for Clinton to 44 percent for Trump. These numbers represent a stark change from the election of 2012, when Mitt Romney led Barack Obama 56 percent to 44 percent among older voters, according to national exit polls.
And, yet, when it comes to issues of importance to those over 50 ― most notably Social Security ― both candidates were radio silent on these topics at the first and second presidential debates.
“In this issueless campaign, the debate was the best chance for voters to get real answers on how the presidential candidates would keep Social Security strong for future generations,” AARP Senior Vice President John Hishta said after the first debate. “If our leaders don’t commit to act, future retirees could lose up to $10,000 per year.”
But beyond the debates, if you dig a little deeper, you’ll find at least three reasons why Clinton is the better choice for older voters in the November election.
While Trump has scarcely referenced Medicare, Clinton offers a plan to drive down drug costs by allowing Medicare to negotiate for lower prices with drug manufacturers. In addition, Americans would be able to import lower-cost drugs from foreign countries. Clinton also has vowed to fight attempts to repeal the Affordable Care Act which ― according to her campaign ― has made preventive care available for an estimated 39 million people with Medicare and saved more than 9 million people with Medicare thousands of dollars in prescription drug expenses. All in all, her changes will save Medicare more than $100 billion in program spending, her campaign claims.
Although Trump recently has said caregivers would be able to take a tax deduction of up to $5,000 for costs of home care and adult day programs, Clinton has been talking about assistance for adult children caring for elderly relatives since the start of her campaign. She has proposed a new tax break for family caregivers, who would be allowed to deduct 20 percent of caregiving expenses, up to a total of $6,000. She also has vowed to increase Social Security benefits for anyone forced to take time off work to care for ailing relatives. Currently, leaving the workforce can result in reduced Social Security retirement benefits, since they are based on earnings during your top 35 working years. “The lost wages and the work that is sometimes given up are costing families — especially women, who make up the majority of both paid and unpaid caregivers,” Clinton told AP.
With the number of Americans needing long-term care and support predicted to more than double ― from about 13 million in 2000 to 27 million by 2050 ― help for caregivers is a big deal.
3. Social Security
Everyone wants to fix Social Security so that the fund doesn’t go broke; they just don’t agree on how to do it. There are at least a dozen ways and plans that have been proposed to “save” Social Security. Trump has talked about fighting waste and fraud in the area of Social Security, but Clinton has also promised to fight privatization, oppose any reduction of the annual cost-of-living adjustment, and not raise the retirement age ― an idea she has called “unfair.” The Government Accountability Office says that raising the retirement age disproportionately hurts the poor.
She would also expand Social Security benefits for widows and those who took time out of the paid workforce to care for a child or sick family member.
If there’s one thing Americans want to be confident about as they head toward old age, it’s Social Security. Social Security faces a significant revenue shortfall that, if left unaddressed, is projected to result in a nearly 25 percent, across-the-board benefits cut for all Social Security recipients in 2032. But despite recent polling in support of more focus on the issue, it has been largely ignored in this election, said AARP in a press release.
With 10,000 of us turning 65 every single day, here’s hoping that the final debate at least broaches the real concerns of voters related to growing old in America.
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