AARP Sends Strong Message to Congress: Gem State Seniors Are No Pushovers in Debt Debate

Delivers over 20,000 Petitions to Idaho Members of Congress from Residents Concerned Over Cuts to Earned Benefits as Part of Deal to Reduce the Deficit

BOISE, Idaho, July 21, 2011 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- With Congress considering cuts to Social Security and Medicare benefits to pay the nation's bills, today, AARP Idaho volunteers gathered with a simple, but strong message: Gem State seniors are no pushovers in the debt debate.  The group held a press conference calling on Congress not to cut Social Security and Medicare benefits as part of any deal in the debt debate., Following the event, the AARP volunteers drove the point home, delivering over 20,000 petitions from concerned Idahoans to Idaho's Members of Congress urging them not to support any plan that contained cuts to the programs.

The petitions are part of a nationwide effort calling on lawmakers to take Social Security and Medicare benefits off the table for any deficit negotiations that are happening on Capitol Hill.

In Idaho, over 260,000 (17% of the state population) people receive Social Security, for one in four, it accounts for 90% of their income and without it 36% would fall below the poverty level.  226,000 Idahoans count on Medicare for access to health care, ranging from prescription drugs to a visit to their doctor's office.

"Idaho seniors are no pushovers.  These petitions represent real voices of Idahoans who've worked hard to earn their Social Security and Medicare, and don't want to see benefits cut to pay the nation's bills," said Jim Wordelman, State Director for AARP Idaho.  "These petitions represent Democrats, Republicans and Independents who oppose any cuts to Social Security and Medicare benefits as part of any deal in the debt debate."

AARP Idaho leaders recently returned from Washington, D.C., where they delivered the same strong message to Congress, and along with the petitions, over 3,000 Idahoans have made calls, sent emails and attended town hall meetings over the past several weeks to tell their elected representatives to not cut Social Security and Medicare benefits.  While in the nation's capital, during the deficit and debt negotiations, AARP Idaho wore buttons that said, "I am NOT a pushover!"

"Make no mistake—the current debate in the nation's Capitol could impact Idahoans in significant ways, and any cuts to critical programs will take a toll on real people in the Gem State by reducing benefit checks they rely on and shifting health care costs onto them," said Wordelman.  "Social Security and Medicare benefits are on the table, and we must raise our voices loudly and often to remind our elected leaders that these lifelines must not be cut to reduce the deficit."

To date, nearly 4.5 million petitions have been signed across the country and will be delivered to Congress over the next week. AARP also launched a new direct-message television ad last week ( urging Congress and the President to cut waste and close loopholes instead of cutting critical Medicare and Social Security benefits that millions of Americans have earned through a lifetime of hard work.

To learn more about AARP's campaign, visit

AARP is Idaho's largest membership organization with over 180,000 members.

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AARP is a nonprofit, nonpartisan organization with a membership that helps people 50+ have independence, choice and control in ways that are beneficial and affordable to them and society as a whole. AARP does not endorse candidates for public office or make contributions to either political campaigns or candidates. We produce AARP The Magazine, the definitive voice for 50+ Americans and the world's largest-circulation magazine with nearly 35 million readers; AARP Bulletin, the go-to news source for AARP's millions of members and Americans 50+; AARP VIVA, the only bilingual U.S. publication dedicated exclusively to the 50+ Hispanic community; and our website, AARP Foundation is an affiliated charity that provides security, protection, and empowerment to older persons in need with support from thousands of volunteers, donors, and sponsors. We have staffed offices in all 50 states, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, and the U.S. Virgin Islands.