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The president’s speech tonight addressed issues AARP has been working on since long before President Lyndon Johnson’s war on poverty began over 50 years ago. Social Security and Medicare have helped make a difference by protecting the middle class and keeping millions out of poverty, but many families and Americans of all ages continue to struggle.

Obama SOTU address Jan. 28 2014As we look toward this season of new budget proposals, we also urge the president and Congress to fight for responsible solutions to strengthen Medicare and Social Security. If our elected officials truly do want to fight economic inequality and poverty, they cannot do so with shortsighted changes that would hurt families and further undermine the financial security of the middle class in any generation. The president and Congress have an opportunity to reaffirm the importance of the earned benefits of Medicare and Social Security, and to thereby strengthen our families, the middle class and the American dream.

Asking the business community to hire the long-term unemployed takes an important first step toward helping millions of jobseekers find work, and mirrors AARP’s own initiative with employers who pledge to value experienced workers and give them a fair shot. However, due in part to age discrimination, older workers experience longer periods of unemployment, and are more likely to be among the long-term unemployed.

Extending unemployment benefits for the long-term unemployed would also provide relief to many long-term jobless workers, as would passage of the Protecting Older Workers Against Discrimination Act, a bill that addresses the underlying issue of age discrimination and would help ensure a fairer workplace for older Americans.

The creation of starter retirement savings accounts, known as ‘MyRA,’ could help encourage more private retirement savings for those without employer plans. This new savings proposal could be more effective if paired with automatic savings options and investor protections.

AARP will continue to raise our voice on behalf of older Americans and the benefits they have earned and need. We look forward to working with President Obama and members of Congress from both parties to bolster health and retirement security for today’s seniors and future generations.

 

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