Nancy LeaMond named Top Lobbyist by ‘The Hill’ newspaper

Nancy LeaMond named Top Lobbyist by ‘The Hill’ newspaper

AARP Chief Advocacy and Engagement Officer Nancy LeaMond was recently named a 2017 Top Lobbyist by The Hill. 

This year, she is being recognized in the grass roots category, which includes power players in the Nations Capital.

During her tenure at AARP, LeaMond has led several landmark campaigns, including: Take A Stand, You’ve Earned a Say, Health Action Now and Divided We Fail.

LeaMond is a nationally recognized leader in health, retirement security and other issues important to older Americans. Her career spans nearly 40 years in the government and nonprofit sectors.

She has been named by The Hill as one of the Top Lobbyists every year since 2011.

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Social Security Innovation Opportunity: How We Can Nurture New Ideas

Social Security Innovation Opportunity: How We Can Nurture New Ideas

Policymakers have been talking on and off for decades about ways to make Social Security solvent and adequate. However, the conversation often seems stuck in the 1980s, the last time Social Security was addressed, with a small set of policy tools to raise revenue or cut benefits being recommended by each politician or group.

Yet most of those standard tools are not well-designed. Take, for example, the proposal to raise the retirement age. Policymakers often cite the fact that average life expectancy has risen over the last several decades and that more people are working longer. Raising the retirement age effectively cuts all retirees benefits by roughly 8 percent. Yet, all retirees are not equal. For some populations, such as white women without a high school education, life expectancy has actually dropped, and low-income individuals in general have seen much smaller gains in life expectancy than high income individuals. And many older workers are in physically demanding jobs, making it difficult to work into their late 60s.

We need new ideas, and we need to understand their impact on current and future generations. That’s why last year we issued a Policy Innovation Challenge for Social Security Adequacy.

Through the Challenge, we asked, how can we make Social Security better? The result was the development of seven papers detailing solutions to strengthen the adequacy of Social Security benefits.

Social Security clearly is one of the most successful and trusted federal programs out there. It’s also relied upon by a vast majority of Americans, both through the program’s survivor retirement benefits as well as disability insurance protections. But any longstanding program affecting so many people will need attention as time passes, and to say that society has changed a little since President Roosevelt signed Social Security legislation into law in 1935 would be an understatement. Today, for example, many older Americans rely more heavily than ever on their Social Security checks, despite the program never being intended to provide a sole source of income. While the retirement age is already increasing from 65 to 67, the program does not take into account the extra tools individuals will need to stay relevant in today’s economy and the impact job loss, health, and caregiving have on Americans’ retirement.

The variables at play in today’s workforce are many. They present both challenges and opportunities, and that’s where our Challenge comes in. AARP received an overwhelming number of responses, coming from thought leaders from across the country. After review by AARP staff for technical compliance, applications progressed to a blind review by an expert panel, which included the directors of the Retirement Research Centers at the University of Michigan, Boston College, and the National Bureau of Economic Research. The multistep process resulted in the selection of a set of policy innovations to receive financial support for further development. As an economist with a long-time passion for the area of retirement security, I was so inspired by the Challenge myself that I jumped in and put pen to paper to develop a concept for the blind-review process. (AARP authors were not eligible for the funding award.)

I’m thrilled to say that the project has uncovered some innovative ideas. We discussed the solutions this week, when the National Academy of Social Insurance and AARP joined to convene a policy forum, “New Approaches to Social Security Adequacy & Solvency in the 21st Century.” At the event, authors and other policy experts described and debated the innovative Social Security ideas coming out of the Challenge as well as those from other sources. Each idea was independently analyzed by the Urban Institute to show how it will impact the benefits for future generations, as well as the solvency of the program.

We hope that these ideas make an impact on the next discussion about Social Security. Great policy happens when solutions are carefully developed and then examined from all angles, by many people, and through interactive means. We hope you will check out the ideas at and think of your own ways to improve the system.

Debra Whitman is AARP’s chief public policy officer and leads policy development, analysis and research, as well as global thought leadership that supports and advances the interests of individuals age 50-plus and their families. Follow Deb on Twitter: @policydeb

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Tax Day Special: How Much of the Income Tax Pie Do Older Americans Contribute?

By midnight on April 18th, millions of Americans will have hit the File button in their tax preparation apps or dropped their tax returns in the mail. With 2017 tax season almost behind us, it’s a good time to take a look at taxes as they relate to Americans over 50—specifically, older Americans’ impact on the federal coffers as well as the impact taxes have on their own wallets. And there’s another reason to look at this issue now: in the coming months, tax reform promises to be a hot topic of discussion in Washington, D.C.


Big Contributors

Taxpayers 50 and older are big contributors to the federal budget. As chart 1 shows, households headed by a person over 50 paid 60 percent of all federal individual income taxes in 2013. That amounts to $778.9 billion of the $1.3 trillion total federal income tax collected. To put that in perspective, in fiscal year 2013, this money could cover total federal spending on national defense, elementary and secondary education, environment conservation and protection, agricultural programs, scientific research, and space exploration—some of the key government functions helping all Americans live better, more secure lives.

Source: AARP’s Public Policy Institute calculations based on the data in Statistics of Income, IRS–Tax Year 2013 Individual Complete Report, December 2015.


Taxpayers between 50 and 64 years of age were the biggest contributors to the federal income tax “pie,” paying 41 percent of all taxes. Taxpayers 65 and over, paid about half as much, 19 percent, but they were the smallest of the three age groups. The youngest group of taxpayers (under 50) paid 40 percent of the total federal income tax. This group, however, was the largest in size—larger, in fact, than the other two combined.


Story on the Ground

Now let’s swoop down from the birds-eye view to get the story on the ground—that is, from the perspective of a taxpayer. On average, older taxpayers paid considerably more than taxpayers in the youngest age group. Chart 2 shows taxpayers 65 and older paid over $10,000 on average (calculated as a mean), and taxpayers in the 50 to 64 age group paid almost $15,000. By comparison, taxpayers in the youngest age group paid about $6,000. Other metrics, such as median tax, might dull the contrast somewhat, but the main conclusion would likely stay unchanged.


Source: AARP’s Public Policy Institute calculations based on the data in Statistics of Income, IRS–Tax Year 2013 Individual Complete Report, December 2015.


The Interdependence of Ages

As we say goodbye to another tax season and prepare for a national tax reform discussion, examining these tax statistics is important both in terms of public awareness as well as for policymakers. For the general public, it is a reminder that taxes do not magically disappear once you hit 65. Many retirement income sources, such as Social Security or 401(k) withdrawals, may be taxed. It is critical, therefore, for workers of all ages to take future tax burden into account when saving for retirement and when planning a withdrawal strategy once retirement arrives. For policymakers, meanwhile, it is a reminder of older taxpayers’ major contribution to federal coffers.

But this is not a call for intergenerational conflict. Taxpayers over 50 pay more, on average, as this is often the peak earning period of their lives. Older adults also receive substantial benefits from federal programs, most notably Social Security and Medicare, which are financed to a great degree by taxes paid by younger workers.

This full circle of contributions and benefits only underscores the natural interdependence between people of all ages that is so critical in a cohesive society. Moreover, today’s seniors are yesterday’s young, while today’s young are tomorrow’s seniors. Over the course of everyone’s life there are periods when a person pays more in taxes and periods when a person pays less. This is why ability to pay taxes, not age, should continue to be the key factor in guiding our tax policy.


Debra Whitman is AARP’s chief public policy officer and leads policy development, analysis and research, as well as global thought leadership that supports and advances the interests of individuals age 50-plus and their families. Follow Deb on Twitter: @policydeb

Maxim Shvedov is a Senior Strategic Policy Advisor at AARP’s Public Policy Institute. He works on tax and budget issues at the federal and state levels.



NOTES for both Chart 1 and Chart 2: Some households (tax units), such as married couples, may represent more than one taxpayer. When spouses belonged to different age groups, they were assigned to an age group based on the age of the oldest spouse. E.g., a couple with spouses age 67 and 64 were assigned to the 65 and over group. Due to differences in methodology and other factors, these statistics may not be comparable to other data published by the Statistics of Income Division. Details may not add to totals because of rounding.

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