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AARP-80thBday-Print_v1 (4)The following essay was written by Doug Dickerson, Director of AARP of North Carolina

Celebrate a Bedrock for Financial Security – 80 Years of Social Security

Americans are celebrating the 80th anniversary of Social Security today, a program that has become the bedrock for financial security for all Americans as we get older. AARP pays tribute Social Security’s long-term success because it has kept millions of older people and their families out of poverty and helped people age with independence and dignity.

Today 59 million Americans receive Social Security benefits, including 1,907,394 North Carolinians. AARP’s Humans of Social Security is a great way to hear from people who talk about what the program means to them.

In North Carolina, Social Security is an important way of keeping older adults out of poverty and is a critical way to stimulate local economies accounting for $22 billion in local spending.

In 2014, 44 percent of the state’s 65+ population would have had incomes below the poverty line if they did not receive Social Security. 30 percent of Social Security recipients in the state rely on Social Security for 90 percent or more of their income, and 59.5 percent of recipients rely on Social Security for 50 percent or more of their income.

North Carolinians have earned their Social Security benefits by paying into the program throughout their working lives. Yet with 11,000 people in the country turning 65 each day for the next 15 years, and with people living longer, this program faces challenges in the future. A 2015 report from the Social Security and Medicare Boards of Trustees concluded, “Lawmakers should address the financial challenges facing Social Security and Medicare as soon as possible. Taking action sooner rather than later will leave more options and more time available to phase in changes so that the public has adequate time to prepare.”

According to AARP CEO Jo Ann Jenkins, “One of the most important questions is, ‘how should these programs be addressed?’ The answer affects how much people will pay into these programs while they are working and how much they will receive when they begin to draw benefits,” Jenkins said.

AARP believes as we ponder the answer to this important question, we must recognize two fundamental tenets. Read More

Commentary
Image: Citizens Against Ag-Gag Legislation Facebook page

Image: Citizens Against Ag-Gag Legislation Facebook page

[Update: The veto override motion on House Bill 405 passed the House today by a vote of 79-36 and the Senate by a vote of 32-15]. One of the most unfortunate developments at the North Carolina General Assembly in recent years has been the GOP majority’s affinity for shutting down debate. Though things have improved in the House somewhat since the departure of Thom Tillis, Republican leaders (many of whom complained mightily about the same practices while they were in the minority) have all too often turned to the cheap and lazy solution of limiting debate and public comment, pushing things through on voice votes (e.g. Senator Bob Rucho’s recently shameful performance) and/or using procedural bureaucracy to “table” amendments, rule them  “out of order” or to prevent them from even being offered in the first place.

Of course, the excuse that’s often advanced for the use of such tactics is that “everyone already knows how they’re going to vote” on XYZ bill and therefore, additional debate is just a “waste of time.”

If ever there was a bill that demonstrates the emptiness of such an excuse, however, it has to be the controversial “Ag gag” bill that Governor McCrory recently vetoed. When the measure first passed the House by a huge margin a few weeks ago during a rush of legislation, it received relatively little attention and was perceived as simply being about the issue of animal abuse. Since that time, however, things have changed — most notably that more and more people have actually read the proposal and begun to envision scenarios in which it would have a negative or even dangerous potential impact.

Now, today, as the House prepares to consider overriding the Governor’s veto, there is vastly more public attention and all sorts of problems that had not previously been considered are “on the table.” Moreover, numerous important groups that had simply missed the bill — from the AARP to disabled vets — are against it.

The veto may still be overridden and the proposal may well become law, but there can be little doubt that the state will be better off going forward for having had a much more thorough debate and for having a great deal more scrutiny on the issue.  Let’s hope fervently that the experieince teaches some important people a lesson about how democracy works best.

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At a time of historically low interest rates, state lawmakers gave final approval last night to legislation that ramps up the cost of consumer finance loans.

Meanwhile, consumer advocates are calling on Governor McCrory — who once made his oppostion to predatory “payday” loans a major plank in a mayoral reelection campaign in Charlotte  — to veto the legislation. This was released earlier today:

AARP Calls on Governor to Reject Rate Hike for Consumer Loans, Senate Bill 489 Senate Bill 489 will increase rates and fees on consumer finance loans 

RALEIGH —  On Monday night the Senate voted to concur with the House’s amendments to Senate Bill 489.  The bill now goes to the Governor’s office for his consideration.

“We are calling on the Governor to reject Senate Bill 489,” said AARP NC Director Doug Dickerson. “This legislation is going to hurt seniors and other consumers that use these loans by increasing interest rates and adding new fees.” Read More

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Payday lending 3It remains difficult to fathom that the leaders in the General Assembly would really want to open the can of worms that is payday lending, but, as we have reported on several occasions here recently, powerful state Senators are indeed advancing a bill to re-legalize the long-banned practice here in North Carolina.

Meanwhile, opposition to the idea continues to surface and grow in numerous places. Here are just a few:

Yesterday, the North Carolina Council of Churches devoted the newest issue of its Raleigh Report to a description of the evils of two-week, triple-digit interest rate loans.

This morning, Read More