AARP NY members dissecting candidates’ Social Security plans

social-security-cardWith Trump winning a commanding victory among Republican voters in New York last week, members of AARP New York are expressing their concerns regarding a lack of details about his Social Security plan.

Currently, Donald Trump is the only candidate who has not outlined a plan to make Social Security sound for future generations.

According an AARP telephone poll of 800 registered voters age and 50 and older, 88 percent of New York’s undecided Republican voters, 79 percent of decided Republican voters, and 63 percent of Democrats think Donald Trump should lay out a plan for Social Security.

This is especially important, because voters 50 and over are the most politically active age group in New York.

“The [50 and over] agree that having a plan to ensure Social Security is financially sound for their children, grandchildren and future generations is a basic threshold for presidential leadership”, said Beth Finkel, state director of AARP New York.

The poll, conducted between April 5 and April 8, indicates that Republican women are more likely than GOP men to say it’s “very important” that Trump lay out a plan for Social Security.  The figures were 57 percent for women, versus 46 percent for men.  Annual income also made a difference. Sixty-five percent of  Republican voters earning less than $50,000 a year said it’s “very important,” compared to 44 percent of Republican voters earning more than $100,000 a year.

The AARP poll, which has a margin of error of 5 percent, also looked at the candidate of choice among both Democratic and Republican voters age 50 and over in New York.

Among Democrats, Hillary Clinton is preferred by 48 percent of voters, compared to 21 percent for Bernie Sanders.  Twenty-six percent of Democrats said they were undecided over which candidate they prefer.

As for Republicans, Donald Trump is favored by 40 percent of voters, followed by Ted Cruz, 12 percent and John Kasich, 9 percent.  Thirty-six percent of Republicans said they were undecided.

In the poll conducted by Precision Opinion, voters were asked which qualities are most important in a candidate. A majority of Democrats and Republicans agree that leadership is the most important quality in a candidate (89 percent for both). However, Democrats place a significantly higher value on experience than Republicans (75 percent for Democrats, 44 percent for Republicans).  Shared values is another quality mentioned in the survey and 66 percent of Republicans said this is “very important,” compared to 74 percent of Democrats.

Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders sponsored the Keeping Our Social Security Promises Act, with the purpose of protecting Social Security for future generations.  According to his website, Sanders wants to expand Social Security.  His website also says that right now, a billionaire pays the same amount of money into Social Security as someone who makes $118,500 a year. This, he says, is because there is a cap on taxable income that goes into the Social Security system. To change this, he has proposed legislation to lift this cap.

Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, too, wants to expand Social Security.  According to her website, she wants to fight any effort to privatize or weaken Medicare and Social Security.  Her website says that as president, she would fight any attempts to “gamble” seniors’ retirement security on the stock market through privatization, oppose reducing annual cost-of-living adjustments, oppose Republican efforts to raise the retirement age and oppose closing the long-term shortfall on the backs of the middle class, whether through benefit cuts or tax increases.

While Donald Trump doesn’t exactly have a plan for social security, he has spoken out about the federal program.  According to Ballotpedia, in October 2015, Trump said he and other ultra wealthy Americans should voluntarily relinquish their social security benefits.  He has also mentioned that he is against any cuts to Social Security and is against raising the retirement age for Social Security recipients.

Texas Sen. Ted Cruz is adamant about cutting taxes and according to his website, the current payroll tax system would be abolished, while maintaining full funding for Social Security and Medicare.  He does, however, want to raise the retirement age for Social Security recipients.

According to AARP, nearly 3.5 million New Yorkers receive Social Security, including almost nine out of 10 New Yorkers 65 and older. Introduced 80 years ago, this federal earned benefits keeps a third of New York’s 65 and over population out of poverty and makes up 50 percent or more of the income for nearly half the state’s 65 and over population.

“The mind of a New Yorker says we want to know the plan for social security,” said David McNally, director of government affairs and Advocacy for AARP New York.