Count the leaders of Iowa’s AARP chapter among critics of the Bush administration’s well-publicized plan to promote changes in the Social Security program. Republicans are touting the notion of sidetracking money taken from their checks for the Social Security fund, to let people create private “accounts” instead and choose how the money’s invested. Anne Black, communications director with AARP Iowa, says the chapter agrees with the national organization on one thing: The group agrees with the president in bringing the issue to the attention of the public and strengthening the program now for our children and grandchildren. What they don’t agree with, Black says, is a solution “worse than the problem.” Black says the solution being proposed now — private accounts — would drain money out of social security, lead inevitably to cuts in benefits, and pass on a huge bill to future generations. Black says one of the key audiences the president is addressing to promote his changes to Social Security is the younger American workers, people age 18 to 39. When those people find out all the details about private accounts and what they’d do to the “security” of Social Security, Black says more than 60-percent oppose them. With Iowa’s older-than-average population, Black says as you might expect the group has a strong presence in the state. The association’s strong in Iowa, with about 365-thousand members — around 44-percent of the Iowans eligible to become members. The organization advocates for seniors — anybody over age fifty — and their families. In addition to national polling on this issue, Black says AARP Iowa polls its members in the state several times a year. This year in Iowa’s legislature the group’s backing legislation to raise tobacco taxes, offer more choice in longterm care options, and protect consumers from higher costs in utilities including electricity and phone service.
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