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The Top 5 Concerns of people 50 and Over That Our Candidates Are Ignoring

The Top 5 Concerns of people 50 and Over That Our Candidates Are Ignoring
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BY STEVE NUBIE

According to a PEW Research report the top 5 things that matter most to Americans in this election have little to do with Americans 50 Plus.

Here’s the telegram. PEW research is defined as a:

Nonpartisan American “fact tank” based in Washington, D.C. and provides information on social issues, public opinion, and demographic trends shaping the United States and the world. And also conducts public opinion polling, demographic research, media content analysis, and other empirical social science research.

That’s a long-winded explanation, but given the obfuscation of facts and hard-science related to information in this current election season, that seems critical.

This is what the PEW Research group found most important to Americans in this election:

chart

In case you can’t find your glasses the top five based on this study include:

  1. Economy
  2. Terrorism
  3. Foreign Policy
  4. Healthcare
  5. Gun policy

While certain aspects of the economy are important to people over 50 who are concerned about their retirement and the costs and availability of healthcare, the specifics of the issues for people 50+ are different than the rest of the population.

The top 5 concerns of people 50 and over included:

  1. Safety and security of retirement income and investments related to the economy
  2. Social Security now and into the future
  3. Health Care costs and the future of Medicare
  4. The Minimum Wage as it affects them and their children as many older Americans find themselves out of work and unemployable.
  5. Education costs for parents still paying for loans and their fear that their children will be strapped by them for years to come.

You may disagree or have some additional insight and please add them to the comments at the end of this article, but the simple fact is that the simplistic promise from all parties in this election doesn’t define nor acknowledge the importance of the issues for people 50 and over.

In fact, none of the current candidates for president have even referred to Social Security reform, Medicare, ageism, or elderly poverty as a talking point let alone a platform for their campaign.

Considering that people 50 and over will make up a sizable proportion of the voting block on November 8th it’s surprising and disappointing that so little attention has been focused on the following 5 issues:

  1. Safety and security of retirement income 

Many people 50 and over endured the effects of past recessions, the housing bubble and the dotcom bubble. The effect on retirement plans and 401K’s was significant and many people have not recovered. That may be why this is the top priority.

The good news is that while a recent GDP report cited positive growth in the economy, there are still lingering fears about stock market volatility, the housing market, and trade agreements. This is largely due to the shrinking time frames for investments for people approaching retirement.

To date both candidates have done little to identify a platform for reduced stock market volatility, the housing market and mixed signals on trade agreements although Donald Trump has come out strongly against the North American Fair-Trade Agreement (NAFTA).

  1. Social Security

More than 40 million Americans collect Social Security benefits. 50% of them have no retirement savings according to the General Accounting Office. More than 30% of Americans are totally dependent on Social Security for their income.

Given current trends it’s estimated that in 2033 the Social Security System will run out of money which would probably result in a reduction of benefits up to 25%. What doesn’t make any sense is that Social Security is not an entitlement. Every one of us has consistently seen a portion of our paychecks invested in our Social Security and Medicare accounts going back to the first day of our first job. It’s our money! Who gave congress permission to raid our accounts? The answer is: we did by not making this an issue or voting for people who understand the fundamental concept.

Here’s where the top 2 candidates stand on this issue:

Quoted from Hillary Clinton’s website:

“Hillary understands that there is no way to accomplish that goal without asking the highest-income Americans to pay more, including options to tax some of their income above the current Social Security cap, and taxing some of their income not currently taken into account by the Social Security system.”

Quoted from Donald Trump’s website:

“We have in Social Security thousands of people over 106 years old. You know they don’t exist. There’s tremendous waste, fraud and abuse, and we’re going to get it. But we’re not going to hurt the people who have been paying into Social Security their whole life and then all of a sudden they’re supposed to get less. We’re bringing jobs back.”

  1. Medicare and health care cost 

A continuing concern for people 50 and over is the potential for a serious health issued that can affect their jobs, their savings and their life. Given that many people 50+ have found themselves unemployed, or underemployed in part-time positions without benefits, the costs of insurance coverage is not only expensive, but for some totally out of reach.

The Affordable Care Act was supposed to make it easier for people of all ages to have health insurance, but a recent report indicates that premiums in many states will rise. According to CNN, Arizona health care premiums will rise 116% in 2017 while Indiana’s premiums will actually go down by 3%. One of the reasons cited is the number of senior-citizens residing in Arizona and the increased costs of healthcare for an aging population.

Hillary Clinton wants to revise the Affordable Care Act and Donald Trump wants to eliminate it and replace it with something else to be determined after the election. Neither candidate has offered many specifics either way.

This begins to point to another health care issue and that’s Medicare. Some in Congress like Paul Ryan want to raise the eligibility age from 65 to 67. 

Neither candidate has come out with a specific plan for Medicare although Hillary Clinton wants to push down prescription drug prices allowing Medicare to negotiate lower prices, and to allow Americans to import lower-cost drugs from foreign countries.

According to Donald Trump’s website: “On day one of the Trump Administration, we will ask Congress to immediately deliver a full repeal of Obamacare. After the administration has been in place, then we will start to take a look at all of the programs, including entitlement programs like Social Security and Medicare.”

What’s stunning about The Trump campaign’s statement is the definition of Social Security and Medicare as entitlement programs. Remember, it’s your money in your account for these programs that the government has largely mismanaged over the years. How is that an entitlement?

Recently Trump advanced some ideas after being criticized by Marco Rubio for not enough specifics. Trump stated he that he wants Medicaid to be transformed in a state block grant program; the tax exemption of employer-based health insurance plans, and allowing prescription drugs to be imported. He is against allowing Medicare to negotiate drug pricing with drug companies.

  1. Ageism and the minimum wage 

Ageism is fundamentally, age discrimination. It’s one of the reasons so many people 50 and over feel their age is a detriment to employment. The result is that many find themselves working part-time without benefits and often at or just above the minimum wage. Raising the minimum wage would not only give older Americans at least a fighting chance with finances, but it would help their kids too who are often working long-hours for minimum wages especially while attending college.

Neither campaign has ever addressed these issues.

  1. Education costs 

It may seem unusual for people 50 or over to be concerned about education costs and school loans, but many people over 50 have children in college or grandchildren approaching their first year of higher education. According to the Federal Reserve Bank of New York the current outstanding student loan debt in the U.S. is between $900 billion and $1 trillion.

As college costs have continued to increase, parents feel a burden to help their kids with costs and are heart-broken when they have to co-sign school loans that will put their kids in debt for decades.

Hillary Clinton’s plans states that:

  • Students should never have to borrow to pay for tuition, books, and fees to attend a four-year public college in their state.
  • Colleges and universities will be held accountable for improving outcomes and controlling costs.
  • Students will do their part by contributing their earnings from working 10 hours a week.
  • Families will be asked to make “an affordable and realistic family contribution.”
  • The federal government will provide grants to states that commit to these goals and cut interest rates on loans.
  • Students at community college will receive free tuition.

Donald Trump’s website doesn’t report a plan to address this issue, although when asked about this issue at a rally in New Hampshire his response was, “Just trust me.”

The home stretch

As this campaign comes to a close it’s possible some of the issues will be addressed with more clarity from the candidates. One can only hope. Maybe something they should keep in mind is based on these statistics from the U.S. News Money Report:

  • 54% of people 45 to 64 will vote.
  • 61% of people 65 and over will vote.
  • In 2012 70% of people 50 and over voted.

Contrast that to 21% of young adults 18 to 24 who vote, or 37% of adults 24 to 44 who vote. The most powerful and potent voting block is the one that has been largely ignored in this election.   It makes you wonder, but then nothing about this year’s election should surprise anyone anymore.

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Steve Nubie
Steve Nubie has been writing professionally for 38 years. He is a published author with 10 books to his credit, has written for CBS Entertainment for the Twilight Zone series, and has written hundreds of articles for magazines and the Internet. He has served as Chief Creative officer in the marketing and advertising industry, was an Executive career-coach, is a chef and has traveled extensively living in Asia for two years, and London for two years.