By: Sanford R. Altman, Esq., retired

Now that the budget battle has moved to the federal level, are we seniors in more

Are you feeling victimized? Are you feeling that seniors are now a target of politicians? If that is the case, you must be keeping up with the news.

I recently heard excerpts from President Obama’s long term proposal for reducing the national deficit and, while I generally reserve judgment until I hear specifics and see the numbers, one statement has struck me. He said, in essence, that the opposing party’s budget proposal puts the burden on seniors,- those who “don’t have any clout on Capital Hill.” No reaction? Here’s our President, putting forth ideas which, at least on their face, seem more favorable to seniors than the alternatives already presented, yet he refers to seniors as having no clout. If this is how he views seniors, what must the others think, those who are not quite so supportive? Do they all include in the cloutless those who will become seniors in the next decade and those who will also be affected by the long term budget? What about caregivers or adult children of seniors? Included also?

There must be something about this massive group of ours that makes those in power believe that we are powerless. Perhaps it’s the lack of high powered lobbyist. Maybe we are not sufficiently organized. Possibly we are too diverse to get our message across.

In reality, we do have many things in common. A recent survey found that the vast majority of the population wants a home and a comfortable retirement and we can probably add that, after working hard most of our lives, we would like to leave something to our kids and not go broke because of medical bills. All of these were viewed as reasonable expectations in this country in the not too distant past. As we watch the security of our future being shattered like a plate glass window being pounded by a political football, it brings to mind the battle cry of that great senior singing group, the Raging Grannies: IF YOU’RE NOT OUTRAGED, YOU’RE NOT PAYING ATTENTION.

Angry is good, action is better. These are three of the many things we can do:

  1. JOIN. Join a senior organization like AARP. You can do this as early as age 50. Current plans to gut Social Security, Medicaid and Medicare will affect you, your parents and almost everyone you know sooner than you think. Joining is cheap and you don’t have to do anything (except maybe take advantages of their discounts if you want). It’s all in the numbers. Seniors and future seniors can be a huge voting block and this gives us a voice. We don’t ever want to hear another politician say that we have no clout.
  2. SOLO ACTION. A letter to your state Legislature, Congressman or US Senator counts. They know that it represents their constituents with similar views many times over. We have to let them know that, if budget cuts must be made, cuts should come from all sectors, not just those that affect seniors.
  3. PLAN PLAN PLAN. Whatever happens in Washington or Albany, we need to take responsibility for ourselves and our families. With the law changing around us at a frantic pace, make an appointment with an elder law/estate planning attorney, financial advisor and accountant, sooner rather than later . We always (or should always) work as a team. New plans have to be created, old plans should be revised. With the political winds swirling around us, taking care of ourselves is one thing that is always in our control.