Our Best Hope for the Future


President John F. Kennedy said that, “Children are the world’s most valuable resource and its best hope for the future.” That was never more true than it is today, when one in four children in this country is Latino.

The 2012 presidential election is now history and the work to fulfill the voters’ mandates has begun. Across the country, Latino voter turnout proved to be the historic and decisive factor in many races, yet the true potential of our burgeoning community is only beginning to be realized. By 2050, Latinos will be the largest demographic group in the U.S. and 35 percent of Latinos are not yet of voting age, making them the youngest demographic in the country. It is clear that the prosperity of America rests on the well-being of Latino children. To this end, the National Latino Children’s Institute (NLCI) was founded in 1997, to bring Latino children to the forefront of national policy formulation.

Too many Latino children are confronting challenging roadblocks in their pathway to success. According to the Pew Hispanic Center, there are 6.1 million Latino children living in poverty and nearly one in three face food insecurity. Latino children have not benefited from the tremendous strides in children’s health coverage. Ninety percent of children are now insured, while 22 percent of Latino children are uninsured. The gap in educational achievement begins at a very young age due to lack of early childhood education. Nearly half of all Latino students drop out of high school and too many of those that graduate do not have access to higher education. The immigration status of the family places a psychological burden on Latino children who fear their parents may be deported. There are 5.5 million children in the U.S. with at least one parent who is undocumented.

Since its founding, NLCI has been bringing awareness and visibility to these disparities through its educational programs. Salsa, Sabor y Salud and Creando el futuro are bilingual and culturally appropriate programs that work with Latino families. Salsa, Sabor y Salud helps promote nutrition and healthy lifestyles and Creando el Futuro drives home the message that parents are a child’s first teacher and strives to compensate for the institutional barriers to entry for Latino students in early learning. Since 1997, NLCI has worked with the U.S. Senate to pass a Senate Resolution commemorating April 30th as El Día de Los Niños, Celebrating Young Americans.

NLCI’s work culminates in an annual summit that convenes policymakers and thought leaders to tackle the most pressing issues facing Latino children. The 2012 summit, “Action Now---Keeping the Promise of a Bright Future for Latino Children,” was held in Phoenix where too many children have borne the brunt of Arizona’s anti-immigrant climate. SB1070 has torn children from their families and HB2281 has targeted and prohibited Chicano or Mexican American Studies from being taught in public schools. The event was co-sponsored by eLatinaVoices, the largest online community of active Latinas in Arizona.

The NLCI summit brought together prominent Latino leaders including Dr. Juan Andrade, Founder of the United States Hispanic Leadership Institute; Sarita Brown, President of Excelencia in Education; Thomas A. Saenz, President and General Counsel of MALDEF, and Congressman Raul Grijalva, AZ-7th District and actor Benito Martinez. They came together to provide a national perspective on the issues and concerns of Latino children. Summit participants also benefited from current research data and exchanged successful strategies to address the unique challenges facing young Latinos. While the country is more divided than ever, these advocates spoke with one clear and passionate voice on behalf of Latino children.

Each year, NLCI honors an organization that has created opportunities for Latino children. This year’s recipients of the La Promesa de un Futuro Brillante Award were ELatina Voices and Chicanos Por La Causa. Through their advocacy and programs, Latino children have a strong voice in Arizona. By bringing together families, communities and leaders, NLCI invests in our best hope for the future. It is Latino children that will shape this country in the coming decades, and proper investments and policies today will ensure our collective future. For more information about NLCI, visit www.NLCI.org.

María Rita Jaramillo is the Chair of the National Latino Children’s Institute.



Chained CPI Equals Retirement Insecurity


For several years, many politicians and opinion leaders have talked about cutting Social Security to help reduce the national deficit. But let’s be clear, Social Security doesn’t contribute one penny to the deficit. Our goal should be to do everything possible to make Social Security stronger for the beneficiaries of today and the future, but that should be an entirely separate conversation from deficit reduction.

Right now, some in Washington are proposing cutting Social Security as part of a budget deal. They call it chained CPI (chained consumer price index or CCPI). It’s just another fancy Washington word that really means cutting Social Security benefits, money you’ve earned through a lifetime of hard work.

Chained CPI would change the formula for calculating the annual cost-of-living adjustment (COLA) for Social Security benefits, and would cut benefits by $127 billion over the next ten years alone. The cut to the COLA would start now and get bigger and bigger every year, hitting the oldest seniors the hardest after they’ve spent much of their savings.

The cuts would be bad for everyone, but women, especially minority women, would take the biggest hit. On average, women earn less money than men and they’re more likely to work part-time. They’re also more likely to have gaps in their employment if they stop work to raise children or care for other family members. So when women start collecting Social Security, on average, they’re collecting a smaller benefit than men. Chained CPI would deepen the impact of benefit cuts for older women, who already are more likely to fall into poverty.

Here are the top 5 reasons AARP believes chained CPI is the wrong solution:

First, it’s a benefit cut. The chained CPI is a significant benefit cut, not some “technical change” as some in Washington would like you to believe.

Second, cuts get deeper every year. The chained CPI benefit cut would start now and get bigger with every passing year, costing seniors, veterans and our nation’s most vulnerable thousands of dollars over their lifetimes.

Third, it cuts benefits for today’s seniors. Most politicians promised during the 2012 campaign not to cut Social Security for current seniors. The chained CPI would break that promise, cutting benefits that today’s seniors have earned through a lifetime of hard work.

Fourth, it’s less accurate for seniors. The chained CPI assumes that when the cost of something you normally buy goes up, you will substitute a lower-cost item. This theory falls short since many seniors and veterans spend much of their money on basic goods like prescription drugs, utilities and heath care – items that don’t have lower-cost substitutes.

Finally, it’s the wrong solution. Americans deserve a separate, national conversation about how to protect Social Security for today’s seniors and responsibly strengthen it for their kids and grandkids.

Chained CPI is a bad deal for Social Security recipients and the family members who depend on them. It targets the oldest, poorest Americans – those who are least able to afford cuts.
Last year, AARP reminded people that, “You’ve Earned a Say,” about what happens to Social Security and Medicare, because you’ve worked hard for these benefits. Social Security is a self-financed program that did not cause the deficit and should not be cut to reduce it or to pay for other government programs.

It’s up to the people of this nation to tell lawmakers that we need a separate conversation about retirement security and how to strengthen Social Security for the future. Chained CPI equals retirement insecurity.

Rocky Egusquiza is the AARP Vice President, Multicultural Markets and Engagement.