National AARP tour calls for discourse

With the presidential election approaching, domestic policy issues have taken a larger role in everyday conversation. The American Association of Retired Persons has launched a national “You’ve Earned a Say” tour to provide the public with a voice on the issues of Social Security and Medicare.

Geneseo was the second stop for the New York leg of the tour on Friday Oct. 12.

“It’s a national tour to, hopefully, start an intergenerational conversation,” said Program Specialist with AARP New York and Geneseo alumna Lindsey Etringer ‘06.

According to Etringer, the cross-generational aspect is an important component of the tour. Medicare and Social Security affect everyone from current recipients to the younger generation, who she said should be concerned about the future of these programs.

“We’re trying to meet people in their community so their voices can be heard,” she said. “The more we talk about it, the more the [presidential] candidates will talk about it.”

The last stop of the tour was at Hofstra University for the presidential debate, Tuesday Oct. 16 with “a series of events, community conversations as well as a debate-watching party for members and nonmembers alike,” Etringer said.

The “You’ve Earned a Say” Tourmobile was situated in the heart of campus near the MacVittie College Union and Mary Jemison Dining Hall.

Volunteers provided surveys designed to establish student opinions about current problems with Medicare and Social Security. The Tourmobile also featured surveys on iPads, a prize-wheel and free T-shirts.

Etringer handed out the AARP Presidential Voters’ Guide, which outlined AARP’s core principles on Social Security and Medicare alongside President Barack Obama and former Gov. and Republican Party presidential nominee Mitt Romney’s formal statements on the policies.

According to the guide, Social Security should provide benefits based on individual’s earnings and contributions, keep up with inflation, protect dependent beneficiaries and be put on stable financial ground.

Medicare should be strengthened to ensure current and future high-quality, affordable coverage, guarantee affordable benefits that meet recipients’ needs and improve the quality, safety and efficiency of care by emphasizing value and reducing fraud, waste and abuse.

Junior Marty Rogachefsky said he’s concerned about current policy issues and what the future holds should the system not be improved.

“My grandparents are dependent upon Medicare, and costs are rising,” he said. “I see that I am paying for Medicare and Social Security in my paychecks, and I don’t think I’m going to be getting that.”

According to Rogachefsky, funding for these programs will run out before he will need them.

“I don’t see the point in contributing if I’m not going to benefit,” he said.

Barbara Brody, an AARP volunteer from Rochester, N.Y. also shared her belief in the importance of keeping young people informed.

“I am a senior citizen, and I am getting Social Security and Medicare,” she said. “I don’t know where I would be without it. You folks are just starting out; you’ll want it to be there for you when you need it.”

Brody also said she’s concerned for her grandchildren and young people alike.

“We need to know you’re informed,” she said. “You will be the ones to make the future decisions.”