That same Prudential poll found that three quarters of women surveyed expect to work longer than they originally planned or wonder if they'll be able to retire on time. That might explain why women voters—who also make up a greater share of the electorate than men—might be more open to reforming Social Security and Medicare than the politicians in Washington are.
Recent polls show that majorities of voters now support raising the retirement age to 69 by the year 2075, and reducing Social Security and Medicare payments to wealthier Americans. Depending on how those two reforms are implemented, they could eliminate as much as 60 percent of Social Security's underfunding, according to the Wall Street Journal, and would result in increased—not decreased—benefits. And don't forget that a larger proportion of those benefits will go to retired women.
I suspect most women are ready to reform entitlements. They understand that it's not the moderate reforms that threaten their benefits, but an unsustainable status quo. Chuck Blahous, one of two public trustees for Social Security and Medicare, says that doing nothing will ultimately result in benefits being cut by a full 22 percent. To most women, if the choice lies between a 22 percent drop in benefits during their long retirement, or working a few more years—something they were already planning to do—it's a no-brainer.
Women will continue to grow in number in the workforce and to have a primary responsibility for home and family matters, so they deserve a voice in these budget debates. Women get it. If told the truth about what needs to be done to save entitlement programs that we may need someday, we will listen and make decisions on the facts, as we do every day at the office or around the kitchen table. We got used to tightening our belts a long time ago, and if treated as the intelligent caregivers, voters, taxpayers, and businesswomen that we are, why would we not do what needs to be done?