Seniors across the region have asked Congressman Bill Owens not to support federal cuts to Social Security and Medicare to reduce the nation's deficit.

The American Association of Retired Persons-NY delivered nearly 4,000 petition signatures to Owens's Plattsburgh office Thursday morning as part of a nationwide effort by AARP to take Social Security and Medicare benefits off the table during deficit negotiations on Capitol Hill.


"These are signatures that have been gathered over the past several weeks," said David McNally, manager of government affairs for the regional AARP affiliation.

"It's been universally accepted by anyone we ask that, quite frankly, Social Security did not cause the debt problem and should not be thrown on the table as part of the solution.

"We also recognize that Medicare needs changes in the long run, but for the short term, it should not be used as a solution to the reduce the debt ceiling."


Nearly 137,000 people who live in the 23rd Congressional District receive Social Security benefits, while 100,000 are on Medicare, McNally pointed out.

"These are people who have paid into the system and expect their benefits," he said. "But it's not just the current beneficiaries; those people paying into the system now need to have that peace of mind about their retirements."


Petitions collected represent a wide range of political interests, he added.

"These petitions represent Democrats, Republicans and Independents who oppose cuts to Social Security and Medicare benefits as part of any deal to pay the nation's debt.

"It doesn't matter about geography or political party. These citizens are opposed to these kinds of cuts.

"Social Security and Medicare are critical to the health and retirement security of millions of New Yorkers today and into the future," McNally said in a press release issued by AARP-NY.

He noted in a Press-Republican interview that many local people are affected.

"So many people are reading about this in the national news, but we want to make sure that people understand how it affects people right here at home.

"Part of what we want to do is let people know that there is local support for them."

With more than 97,000 AARP members in the 23rd Congressional District, it is a voice that is working hard to be heard.


"I think that's a pretty good sampling of the population in this area of the district," Owens said of the 4,000 signatures delivered to his Plattsburgh office. "That represents some pretty strong feelings from folks; it lets you know that the goal here should be strengthening Social Security, not cutting a program that is essentially self funded."

Owens said he will share his constituents' feelings with his fellow lawmakers and will continue to support their needs.

"Social Security is a system that we need to clearly have in place. Seventy-five percent of Americans rely on Social Security as their principal, if not only, source of income."

He said he is working hard to ensure that people on Social Security will continue to receive their benefits on time.

"The thing we've been saying to people is that we're doing everything we can to make sure their Social Security checks go out next week."

Owens has been in open communications with AARP members throughout the district and has been very supportive during discussions, McNally said.

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