Friday, January 25, 2008

Stimulus, Seniors & Social Security

Here we go again...

Just as we saw in stimulus packages in 2001 and 2003, America’s seniors living on fixed incomes are once again the forgotten constituency. The stimulus plan negotiated in the House ignores millions of retired Americans who live on their savings, pensions and Social Security and feel the pressure of high prices and the slowing economy as acutely as anyone. These seniors are in the direst need and most likely to spend any additional income on necessary resources such as medicine, utilities, food and clothing. They are literally the demographic poster-child for the stated stimulus goals:

Timely - Social Security Commissioner Michael Astrue says checks could be delivered in 6 weeks, compared to the IRS’s 10-12

- Social Security databases allow easy access to Social Security beneficiaries. Americans 65+ spend 92 percent of their annual income, which is more than any other demographic group with the exception of those under age 25.

-One time checks would be issued to seniors (through Social Security) just as currently planned for workers (through the IRS).

Including retirees in any effort at economic recovery makes good sense yet the administration treats seniors as if they’re just asking for a handout. Consider Treasury Secretary Paulson’s answer to a reporter’s question about including Social Security beneficiaries. Clearly the Secretary believes stimulus for millions of seniors is merely a “gift”:

The Christmas season has come and gone. We're not trying to decorate a Christmas tree here”... Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson
The good news is Senate Democrats have made it clear they have some ideas of their own to strengthen this stimulus package. But seniors will have to make their case quickly as this package is moving on the fastest track we’ve seen on Capitol Hill in years.

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