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Questions For Seniors And Boomers

By The Reverend Published: October 27, 2008

One of my most disheartening moments came during the general election cycle of 2004.

In 2004...

Mr. Bush received support from 53 percent of voters 60 and over, compared to 46 percent for Kerry, according to the exit polls. The vote was slightly different for those 65 and older, with only 51 percent supporting Bush and 48 percent for Kerry. Link

I can't say for sure why older voters decided to give W. four more years. I'm guessing that not changing horses while mid-stream in a concocted war of choice was probably one of the deciding factors in 2004. Perhaps seniors and boomers bought-in to the outrageous and shameless smearing and lying by the swiftboaters in the election's closing weeks. Whatever the case might have been, I was, indeed, disappointed by America's older generation's choice four years ago. To me, a kind of political junkie, it made no sense....it was counterintuitive.

With today's Bush favorability numbers in the 20's, The Reverend's point of view has finally won the day....sadly though, only after much more destruction to our nation has occurred.

Anyway, here we are again, four years later....and the one demographic breaking close to even in the 2008, Obama-McCain matchup is...older voters.

A few questions...

John McCain has stated that he favors, at a minimum, partial privitization of Social Security. To be fair, McCain talks of voluntary participation specifically by younger workers. Like George W. Bush before him in 2005, McCain would only allow for a portion of federal withholding (FICA) to be placed in these voluntary accounts. The problem here is that simply setting up a partial-privatization-voluntary-for-younger-workers program has an estimated cost of $1 trillion. Another obvious problem right now would be the recent stock market drop of nearly 40%. If workers participating in hypothetical partially privatized accounts were looking to retire this year......how would their private retirement account look...and is this a chance you want to take for your children and grandchildren?

John McCain has suggested he would have to cut Medicare benefits by some outrageous amount. McCain's answer to our current financial crisis is to "take a hatchet" to spending, including Medicare. Is that what seniors and boomers really want?

Consider the boomer children and granchildren under McCain's health care plan. If younger workers are fortunate to have employee sponsored health care right now.....McCain's plan would radically disrupt it. For the first time, McCain plans on taxing everyone's employee sponsored health care benefits. In The Reverend's situation, for instance, a family plan that is entirely paid for by Mrs. Reverend's employer at the rate of $14K per year would cost our family an additional $3-4 thousand in new income taxes. McCain's answer to that problem is to give us a $5K tax credit to make up the difference.

At first look, that seems like a good deal for The Reverend family. We might plus an additional $1000. Two problems. Most employees pay a portion of their employer sponsored health care coverage. Not just the deductibles and the co-pays and all the jive that we all must deal with....but the health care premium, itself. It's not uncommon for employees to pay several hundred dollars per month for their share of a health care policy. There goes any potential advantage from McCain's plan.

More importantly, and this is key,.....if employees pay taxes on their health care benefits.....so does the employer. The employer would have to pay 6-7% of the cost of his employees health care benefits into FICA payroll taxes. This fact, alone, in John McCain's health care plan would incentivize employers to drop health care coverage for their employees. It is estimated that up to 20 million more people would lose their employer sponsored health care should McCain's plan be enacted.

Is that what seniors and boomers want for their working children and grandchildren?

Finally, often the boomer generation is criticized for wanting everything, thinking everything is about them, thinking selfishly, navel gazing, etc. Bum rap or not.....the question for today's boomers is whether they think the standard of living for their children and grandchildren will be as high as their own.

Americans have experienced the biggest transfer of wealth in the last decade since before the Great Depression. This has been no accident. From the outsourcing of jobs, to deregulation of huge business interests, to the orchestrated diminishing of unions, to a tax code much more favorable to the top 5% than ever.....all of this, and more....have favored a tiny, already wealthy, group of Americans, while regular working stiffs have seen their buying power actually decrease.

John McCain will keep this system, that favors the wealthiest, in place. His idea of stimulating the economy is by giving the same few folks who have benefitted so much from the last 10 years....more breaks. McCain will give more tax cuts to big business while making the Bush tax cuts, favoring the wealthiest, permanent.

Now I know we all hope our children and grandchildren become, you know, wildly rich. I also realize the chances of that happening are slim. As parents and grandparents.....do we want to give our children and grandchildren a higher percentage chance of maintaining the standard of living we have had...or.....do we want them to lose even more ground with more-of-the-last-10-years, trickle down, voodoo economic policies?

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