Forty-seven million Americans rely on Medicare and Social Security. These Americans are not just numbers, they are real people.

Tragically, it’s easy for some in Washington to confuse Medicare and Social Security with numbers. The reality is, by cutting Medicare and Social Security through arbitrary spending limits, many seniors’ lives will be adversely affected.

Recent proposals to adjust Medicare and Social Security are unfair to seniors who have earned the promise these programs guarantee.

Seniors need to know that Medicare will guarantee affordable health care, and that their Social Security check will keep up with rising prices. A lifetime of hard work for hard-earned benefits should be honored. Seniors don’t need broken promises that leave them worried about rent or affording health care.

So rather than eyeballing Medicare and Social Security as a budget balancing tactic, Congress should engage Americans in a national conversation about how to strengthen them because, after all, they belong to the American people.

The deficit and debt require attention, but Medicare and Social Security should be strengthened to meet the needs of 21st century Americans. To this end, AARP supports balanced policies that address our long-term fiscal challenges.

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