It’s time for politicians to answer tough questions

Sunday, February 3, 2008 | 10:00 a.m. CST; updated 11:31 p.m. CDT, Sunday, July 20, 2008

It didn’t take talk of a recession to spark economic anxiety among AARP’s nearly 40 million members. They have been telling us for months that they are worried about the future. They fear that they are living one illness away from financial ruin. Even assuming good health, they are concerned that they will outlive their retirement savings.

They have found little to a reassure them from elected officials. Americans have been exceedingly patient while politicians find countless ways to avoid taking action to secure the nation’s physical, mental and financial well-being. That patience has run out.

People have had enough.

Enough excuses. Enough stalemate. Enough finger-pointing. Enough wasted time.

Now is the moment for voters to let each candidate know what’s keeping them awake at night. It’s time to ask the tough questions: How do you plan to encourage people to save for retirement? What are your plans for the Social Security system? How are you going to promote healthy behavior? How are you going to bring down health care costs?

Then stand back and listen. Listen for details, not sound bites. It’s high time politicians put aside their differences and find a way to work out common-sense, bipartisan solutions to ensure that all Americans have affordable, quality health care and a secure financial future. Listen hard to see if a candidate’s words ring true.

Encouraging cross-party cooperation is the impetus behind Divided We Fail, an oddly-matched national coalition made up of AARP, the organization for people 50 or older; Business Roundtable, an association of CEOs from the nation’s largest companies; the National Federation of Independent Business, the nation’s leading small-business association; and SEIU, the fastest-growing union in North America.

If small and large businesses, labor and consumer organizations can cooperate, surely politicians can, too.

The Divided We Fail premise is simple and compelling: Every American, from every generation, should have access to affordable health insurance coverage and a lifetime of financial security. It sounds easy enough, but these two basic goals have eluded us so far.

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