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How Will the Fiscal Cliff Affect Seniors?
It's the national political topic--the so-called fiscal cliff. So far, there is no deal. And if lawmakers in Washington can't come to an agreement, everyone will be impacted.
So much is at stake, and seniors in Springfield are watching closely.
"We send lawmakers to Washington to represent our interests, and I don't know if I see that happening," Springfield resident Jerry Carlson said.
The big issue regarding the fiscal cliff deals with taxes. But for seniors, changes to Social Security (like the way cost of living adjustments are calculated) and changes to to Medicare are also a possibility.
"There seems to be proposals from both sides for Medicare," UIS political science professor Mike Miller said. "On the right, the proposal is they want to raise the age a couple of years before you are eligible. On the left, you see proposals for means testing, which means the higher-income folks will mean higher premiums."
If non-defense discretionary spending cuts are not averted, things like fewer home-delivered meals for seniors, fewer rides to places in a senior's community, and thousands eliminated from the Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program are possibilities.
"I think most Americans are coming around to saying if we are going to get a handle on the deficit, a lot of things probably should be on the chopping block," Miller said. "If we go over the fiscal cliff, I think you will immediately see across-the-board cuts on many federal programs."
So now it's wait and see for all Americans.
"I am not particularly concerned about myself," Carlson said. "I am concerned about my children and my grandchildren."
The U.S. Federal Reserve is expected to announce a new bond-buying plan this week to support the U.S. economy. They could do that by reducing long-term interest rates and encouraging borrowing by companies and individuals.