Other View: Elderly poor more in need than college kids

Who Biden wants to help shows who he values.

U.S. President Joe Biden delivers remarks at an event on the South Lawn of the White House on July 11, 2022, in Washington, DC.
Chip Somodevilla/TNS
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“Don’t tell me what you value. Show me your budget, and I’ll tell you what you value.” — Joe Biden

If Biden looked at the budgets of about half of older Americans, he could tell that they value simply hanging on.

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Data from University of Massachusetts-Boston shows that more than half of older women in the U.S. don’t have enough income to afford essential expenses, according to The Hill.

UMass Boston’s Elder Index reveals that more than half of older women who live alone are classified as poor under federal poverty standards, while 45% of men are in the same financial shape. The Department of Health and Human Services’ average poverty guideline for 2021 is $12,880 per year for a single American.

We can thank COVID-19 for some of this — the pandemic resulted in the highest unemployment rates seen for persons aged 55 and older in nearly half a century.


House lawmakers recently pushed for Joe Biden to declare climate change a national emergency, but if there’s something that deserves that kind of all-hands-on-deck action, it’s that half of older Americans who live alone are trying to live on about $12,880 a year.

Amid soaring inflation.

Biden and the Democrats have a lot on their plate, agenda-wise. They’ve all bellied up to the progressive issue buffet, and student loan forgiveness was a hot item (Biden mulling $10,000 per borrower, the far left-leaners calling for $50,000 per borrower to be erased).

Student loan payments have been on pause for over two years due to the pandemic, but the final extension of this suspension is set to end Aug. 31, as Forbes reported.

That’s also Biden’s self-imposed deadline for deciding whether to forgive student loan debt, and by how much. Biden told reporters he would decide on broad student loan cancellation “by the end of August.”

The premise to canceling student loan debt is simple: The amounts owed are enormous, the debt load stifling, and having to pay it back means putting other purchases like a home on the back burner for years.

It’s all about letting people off the hook for their decisions so they can have an easier future. The cost to taxpayers, should Biden go the $10,000 per borrower route, is $373 billion, according to the Brookings Institution.

Helping seniors in poverty belongs higher up on the agenda triage. People who’ve labored for decades with nothing but Social Security to rely on aren’t looking for an easy way to escape responsibilities. Many lost jobs during the pandemic and haven’t been able to recover, or have had nest eggs depleted by medical bills. A lifetime of retail or service industry wages doesn’t set a worker up for a lush Social Security check.


Aging shouldn’t be a ticket to poverty.

Congress has its share of senior members, but they have health care, six-figure salaries and are likely not choosing between paying the light bill or buying enough food to eat.

As the Brookings Institution reported, the median income of households with student loans is $76,400, and 7% are below the poverty line. Among those making payment on their loans (and who would have an immediate cash flow benefit from forgiveness), the median income is $86,500, and 4% are in poverty.

Biden — show us who you’re lifting out of poverty, and we’ll tell you what you value.

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