B’nai B’rith International is pleased to see the budget President Obama sent to Congress sends a positive message on some aging issues, but is concerned by the inclusion of several troubling proposals.
Though unlikely to shift policy, a president’s budget is often considered to represent his vision for the future.
“We are pleased to see some of B’nai B’rith’s priorities for seniors reflected in the president’s budget,” B’nai B’rith International President Allan J. Jacobs said. “We are particularly relieved that the president has dropped his plan to trim cost of living adjustments in Social Security. Seniors represent some of the most vulnerable members of our society. They are among the most likely to live in or near poverty and are heavily dependent on resources such as Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid. Those programs are a vital lifeline for so many senior citizens.”
B’nai B’rith is very pleased that the president dropped a proposed cut in the cost of living adjustment formula for Social Security, which would have reduced future benefits. The previously proposed cut, known as chained-CPI (Consumer Price Index), appeared in several previous budgets from this administration and would have been particularly damaging in the future to the very elderly, the disabled and veterans. However, we remain concerned that Medicare proposals could shift costs to some beneficiaries, effectively whittling away their retirement security through higher Medicare premiums. Unfortunately the president continues to suggest these changes to Medicare, a strategy B’nai B’rith has questioned in the past.
On domestic spending priorities the president did acknowledge the need for additional investment for some vulnerable populations, but did not recognize the importance of finding ways to invest in low-income housing, especially for older adults. With no additional money beyond the bare necessity to sustain existing buildings for low income seniors, we really have no national housing policy to address the growing need among an increasingly large and vulnerable elderly population.
“As the largest national Jewish sponsor of low-income housing for seniors, we are particularly sensitive to issues of affordable housing,” B’nai B’rith Associate Executive Vice President Mark D. Olshan said. “Access to safe and affordable housing impacts every aspect of a person’s life. The president’s budget continues a trend over the last few years to invest very little in the future of affordable elderly housing, and that isn’t a message we welcome.”
For more than 30 years, B’nai B’rith has made affordable housing for low-income seniors a core commitment.
We will continue to work with the administration and the Department of Housing and Urban Development to pursue this critical priority.