Older Americans Month: An Opportunity for Seniors to Make Their Voices Heard

Older Americans Month, which happens every May, is a great opportunity for all of us to celebrate seniors’ contributions to the nation and an opportunity to recognize the power of older adults to influence our communities. 

The 4.4 million members of the Alliance for Retired Americans also use the month to draw attention to the issues that matter most to strengthen retirement security for all.

At the top of that list this year is the nation’s budget. A political party’s budget reflects its values. By that measure, the Republican Party must not value older Americans very much.

GOP members in the U.S. House passed a bill in April to cut federal spending dramatically and unwind many of President Biden’s recent economic accomplishments, pairing those provisions with a plan to raise the debt ceiling until 2024.

H.R. 2811, called the "Limit, Save, Grow Act of 2023" by Republicans, slashes numerous important programs and services that older Americans rely on. The vote tally was 217–215, with no Democrats voting for the legislation.

This bill is especially alarming because President Biden, the Alliance for Retired Americans and many other senior advocates support increasing the debt ceiling with NO strings attached.

We will not stand for any harmful cuts to Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid or critical social programs in exchange for raising the debt ceiling limit.

Retirees have earned their Social Security and Medicare benefits after a lifetime of hard work. These are earned benefits that ensure older Americans receive necessary income and health care after retirement.

Social Security benefits more than 66 million Americans; nearly 50% of retired Americans depend on Social Security for half of their income, while one in four older than 65 relies on Social Security for 90% of their income.

And Medicare guarantees quality health care coverage to more than 64 million older Americans. Both Social Security and Medicare are not government handouts and should absolutely not be cut or compromised.

The Alliance demands that Congress reject the threats to cut Social Security, Medicare and other critical social programs for seniors.

We believe that Congress must not, under any circumstances, allow “Make America Great Again” Republicans to dictate destructive policies that would be harmful not only to seniors, but to all Americans.

So, this year during Older Americans Month, remember how important your voice is. Talk to your friends and contact your U.S. House and Senate members about what the nation’s budget priorities should be. It’s up to all of us who can to stay engaged in our community and inspire others to get involved as well.

Robert Roach Jr. is president of the Alliance for Retired Americans. He was previously general secretary‐treasurer of the Machinists (IAM). For more information, visit www.retiredamericans.org.