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Jan. 23, 2021, 11:13 a.m. EST

What are the most urgent things Biden should do for retirees?

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Paul Brandus

America’s most prominent senior citizen—78-year old Joe Biden—didn’t say anything about older Americans during his inaugural address Wednesday. But the new president made it clear during his campaign that he intends to protect, if not bolster, programs that are vital to their well-being. 

Read more about Biden’s first 100 days

That’s welcome news to advocacy groups. But what specifically should Biden do, now that he is in the White House? I asked a few experts to list their top priorities and this is what they said. 

Mary Johnson, Social Security and Medicare policy analyst, The Senior Citizens League: 

Alicia H. Munnell, director of the Center for retirement Research at Boston College: 

Maya MacGuinness, president of the Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget

The phrase “without action” also implies tax hikes. That’s easier said than done, of course, given the razor-thin majorities that Biden has to work with in the new Congress. Republicans will certainly fight any efforts to raise taxes—even if it means being accused of an unwillingness to help Social Security and Medicare, vital programs that their constituents rely on. 

There’s a well-worn phrase here in Washington: “Kicking the can down the road.” That’s when politicians, unable or unwilling to tackle a tough problem, just delay it. For the kinds of issues that Johnson, Munnell and MacGuinness are talking about, that’s been the case for years. The can keeps getting down the road, and the problems fester.

Let’s hope that our new president, who has a reputation for deal-making and reaching out to his opponents, can do better than his predecessors have.  

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