WEB EXTRA — 'Divided We Fail' effort goes to Schock

DeWayne Bartels

U.S. Rep. Aaron Schock (R-Peoria) has barely had time to settle into his new office, but the demands of the office have come calling. Yesterday some of Schock’s constituents began trying to shape his legislative agenda.

The message sent to Schock by AARP Illinois is to find a way to break through the economic crisis and soaring health care costs. Schock received 2,701 Divided We Fail pledge cards signed by constituents in the 18th Congressional District. They were part of 1.6 million cards from across the nation.

“The cards will make a difference. They already have made a difference with Rep. Schock,” said Peorian Mary Patton, a member of the executive council of AARP Illinois.

She said Schock was a co-sponsor of legislation in the Illinois House addressing these issues.

“He understands the importance of this,” Patton said. “There are so many issues that need to be addressed, but AARP has decided to address these two issues. We would like to see Congress and the president focus on these two issues.”

AARP Illinois State Director Bob Gallo said many in Illinois face tough economic times and rising health care costs. He said AARP expects legislators to set aside partisan differences, break through the gridlock and work toward solutions. 

The event is another step in work going on since 2007, when Divided We Fail was first organized.

In August, Heather Underwood, program coordinator for AARP Illinois, and a former Dunlap resident, commenting on a statewide survey about costs said economic pressure is building on the middle class with rising gas, grocery and medical costs.

“In terms of this poll it shows right now we’re facing some hard economic times,” Underwood said. “I believe the results show people are finding it difficult everywhere. It’s a bleak outlook.”

The poll of 1,002 adults, age 45 and above, found 81 percent of all respondents, and 86 percent of Hispanic respondents, said the economy was in fairly bad or very bad condition.

A similar percentage said the economy is getting worse.

More than one-fourth of all the respondents, and 41 percent of the Hispanic respondents said, paying the rent or the mortgage wa becoming increasingly difficult. The same percentage said it was also difficult to find the money to put into their retirement account.

The poll showed that most respondents were struggling to deal with the increasing cost of food, gas, utilities and medicine.

Those polled said they were responding to these cost pressures by putting off major purchases, cutting out luxuries and trimming travel plans.

The poll results also showed more than one-fourth of all workers 45 and older were postponing their plans to retire.

“People are finding it harder to retire. Only one in five people today have a pension plan,” Underwood said.

“Soaring medical costs are another issue influencing plans to retire. Many people are one step away from financial ruin. Costs continue to rise. Something has to be done.”