Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Answering Tough Questions On America's Budget Matters

The following post was authored by Peter Notarstefano, Director of Home & Community-based Services at the American Association of Homes and Services for the Aging (AAHSA).

Wider Opportunities for Women's (WOW) blogging event America's Budget Matters (So Does Yours) highlights some difficult questions that the leaders of our nation, both Republicans, Democrats and Independents must answer for us to grow as a nation.

Many Americans bought houses that they couldn’t afford or have massive credit card debt. We teach history, mathematics, English and other important subjects in elementary and high school, yet we don’t teach personal finances. My 85 year old mother tells me stories of the World War II days when they had rationing books, and couldn’t buy certain items because the country was focused on winning a war. We had great leaders then, and the American people followed the example of their leaders. It took tough, unpopular decisions to deal with a difficult time in history.

To answer the question, “What can President Obama and Congress do to help Americans be economically secure while balancing the budget?” All I can say is that he needs to listen to Americans, be straightforward concerning what we can afford, and what we can’t afford, and finally make the tough decisions. He needs to be proactive, and not just move the decision process to a presidential commission.

Concerning the question, “What do President Obama and Congress need to know about your budget – or that of those you represent?” Well, as a son, he needs to know that I worry about the quality of life that my 85 year old mother will have living in New York City where electric, heating expenses, transportation, food and health care expenses are overwhelming. She lives on a small Social Security check, and is not eligible for Medicaid. Twenty-five percent of her income goes to pay the cost of a Medicare supplemental policy.

As a father, I worry about the high cost of a college education for my daughter, and the financial burden of paying off student loans. For my son, I worry about the high cost of health insurance and a volatile job market. For my wife and I, my worry is that we will not be able to retire, and the cost of our health care when we are seniors will be impossible to manage.

As an advocate for home and community-based services at the American Association of Homes and services for the Aging, I am concerned that reductions in payments to all providers of services for older adults will be cut to the point of having a negative impact on the quality of services. As a civilized society, we cannot sacrifice the care we give to our children, elderly parents and persons with disabilities in order to have a quick fix to balancing a budget.

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