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Douglas writes: "Donald Trump, at age 70, will be the oldest person to assume the presidency. He is part of a major demographic revolution - the aging of the baby boom - which received minimal attention during the campaign. But now Trump seems poised to declare war on his own generation, or at least the portion that doesn't live in gilt towers in Manhattan."

By threatening Social Security and Medicare, Trump has awakened the wrath of older people. (photo: Cultura RM/SEB Oliver)
By threatening Social Security and Medicare, Trump has awakened the wrath of older people. (photo: Cultura RM/SEB Oliver)

The GOP's Healthcare Plans Have Awakened the Wrath of a Powerful Constituency: Older Americans

By Susan J. Douglas, In These Times

22 January 17


Baby boomers won’t take cuts to Medicare and Social Security without a fight.

onald Trump, at age 70, will be the oldest person to assume the presidency. He is part of a major demographic revolution—the aging of the baby boom—which received minimal attention during the campaign. But now Trump seems poised to declare war on his own generation, or at least the portion that doesn’t live in gilt towers in Manhattan. And judging from the comments section on the AARP website, his cohort is more than ready to fight back.

In typical Trump fashion, the candidate who promised not to cut Medicare or Social Security now has a new pledge: to “modernize” Medicare, which in Trump-speak may mean “annihilate.” The Republicans will use their usual obfuscating blather about “entitlement reform” and “saving” the two programs, which should be immediately countered with a word we’re going to be using a lot: “lie.” Trump’s choice for the director of the Office of Management and Budget, Rep. Mick Mulvaney (R-S.C.), has introduced numerous bills to cut both programs. And the chair of the House Ways and Means subcommittee on Social Security, Sam Johnson (R-Texas), put forth legislation in December to slash the program by raising the retirement age to 69 and reducing benefits—yet he would give tax breaks to affluent retirees. Mother Jones’ Kevin Drum estimates that for retirees whose lifetime incomes averaged between $22,000 and $49,000 annually, benefits would decrease by 28 percent.

Meanwhile, Paul Ryan, who has for years been slavering to cut Medicare, may now be in a position to do so. He has already claimed—falsely—that the Affordable Care Act is bankrupting Medicare, when the opposite is true: Obamacare has extended the solvency of Medicare by over a decade. But we know the truth is irrelevant to this crew. Ryan would change Medicare from a government-funded single-payer program to a complicated system of “Medicare exchanges” where private insurance companies would compete with government-run Medicare. Older people would have to analyze a host of fine-print options that would be much more complex, time-consuming and more expensive than Medicare. People would get “premium support”— vouchers from the government to help pay for their insurance—instead of universal, single-payer coverage.The Kaiser Family Foundation estimates that, under Ryan’s plan, retirees would go from spending 22 percent of their Social Security benefits on healthcare to 49 percent by 2022.

The Ryan plan also rests on a cynical effort at generational warfare. To placate current recipients or those just about to retire, the proposal would not apply to anyone currently 55 or older. This should outrage any older person with younger siblings and friends, children and grandchildren. Meanwhile, there is no proposal to instead sustain Medicare and Social Security by more fairly taxing the wealthy—for which there is popular support—or, say, by ending the tax breaks Big Pharma gets for televised ads for drugs you can’t pronounce and probably don’t need, and which drive up your healthcare costs.

Speaking of those ads that dominate CNN and the nightly news, where we see self-actualizing “super seniors” (mostly white men) kayaking, building sailboats, and performing in rock bands, they present an image of leisurely, worry-free retirement. Maybe Ryan, Trump and their well-heeled colleagues think this is how all older people live. In reality, the median income of older persons (over 65) in 2014 was just over $31,000 for men and $17,000 for women. Nearly half—46 percent—of single people over 65 rely on Social Security for 90 percent or more of their income. And as baby boomers approach retirement, only 55 percent have money saved.

These cuts are part of the broader Republican agenda to shift all kinds of costs and risks onto the 99%. Remember, Trump has an anti-mandate to do all of this: Both programs are enormously popular and need to be strengthened, not cut. The AARP, one of the largest-spending lobbying groups in the country, has vowed to oppose all these moves. With 78 million boomers out there, plus their families and younger friends, progressives can win this fight, and use it to pave the way for the many other battles ahead. As one impassioned person put it on the AARP website, “There are millions of us activist baby boomers! We know what to do. … We did it in the ’60s and ’70s regarding the Vietnam War, the draft, civil rights and MORE! We need to MOBILIZE! Where do we begin? I’m ready to FIGHT!” your social media marketing partner


A note of caution regarding our comment sections:

For months a stream of media reports have warned of coordinated propaganda efforts targeting political websites based in the U.S., particularly in the run-up to the 2016 presidential election.

We too were alarmed at the patterns we were, and still are, seeing. It is clear that the provocateurs are far more savvy, disciplined, and purposeful than anything we have ever experienced before.

It is also clear that we still have elements of the same activity in our article discussion forums at this time.

We have hosted and encouraged reader expression since the turn of the century. The comments of our readers are the most vibrant, best-used interactive feature at Reader Supported News. Accordingly, we are strongly resistant to interrupting those services.

It is, however, important to note that in all likelihood hardened operatives are attempting to shape the dialog our community seeks to engage in.

Adapt and overcome.

Marc Ash
Founder, Reader Supported News

+2 # HowardMH 2017-01-22 14:31
Just swapped No Drama Obama for Comrade Trump, comrade Putin’s Poodle.
Who should we blame or thank for this? Obama who had the House and Senate the first two years, then lost them both along with loosing OVER 1000 congressional seats in the states since he took office, or Trump for being the biggest BS’er in the last 50 years, suckering in millions of poorly educated and very frustrated and desperate people who were willing to try ANYTHING except another career politician.
Trump takes office with an approval rating around 30% (that is less than HALF what the Wimp had when he started).
Trump, you damn well better bring back a couple Million Jobs and do it in the next couple years or you are toast. Also start building those crumbling bridges and roads (and don’t even think about turning them in to tool bridges and roads) – which will put another couple million of people to work. I sure hope you can do it and that you are not just another All Talk No Action politician. America is watching very, very, closely.
+8 # JCM 2017-01-23 08:44
HowardMH: Just to correct the record. Obama had the 60 majority for 72 days and had a few blue dogs to deal with during that time.
+1 # Helen Marshall 2017-01-23 20:14
What is the comrade Putin's Poodle stuff?? This is just DNC nonsense to distract you from Clinton's dreadful campaign and her successful effort to prevent Sanders from being the nominee, the guy who might have prevented the Trump presidency...
+11 # Winston Smith II 2017-01-22 16:45
This is good. This is how it works. Government only act for the benefit of people when people make demands. I don't know if Trump will respond to the growing healthcare activism. He's a pugilist and likes to fight. But he is also pretending he's a populist so he might.

The final point about the AARP should be decisive. If the AARP really does have 78 million members, why can't it mobilize to elect a president who will do the right things on healthcare, social security, and other important issues. It only takes about 60 million votes to elect a president.
+4 # JCM 2017-01-23 08:46
Our Mission. AARP is a nonprofit, nonpartisan, social welfare organization with a membership of nearly 38 million
+1 # Jim Young 2017-01-25 15:20
And they will lose me if I find they played too cozy with ALEC, slow walked their exit from ALEC (just not renewing their membership), or have fooled us by joining it by another name (the State Policy Network aliases that do the same thing but hidden as supposedly independent groups with any number of deceptively named entities including more than one per state).
+6 # boomerjim 2017-01-23 16:00
But what alternative does the GOP have? How can it let the most-efficient healthcare payer continue to outshine private-sector (mostly for-profit) insurers?

Medicare the most-efficient U.S. insurer? Well, remember: the bar is very low.

By the way, I believe the second-most-eff icient coverage organization is ............... the VA.
+10 # heartofnests 2017-01-24 14:23
I am 68 and I trust Paul Ryan like I trust John Wayne Gacy with my grandchildren.

Paul Ryan is a fake Catholic and more like the serpent crushed by the foot of the Blessed Mother. Loathesome and duplicitous, without a spine, indeed.

McConnell always looks and behaves like a sneaky old drunk, so he's not even worthy of examination.
+3 # CL38 2017-01-25 18:28
"Older Americans will fight cuts to Medicare and Social Security".

Older Americans won't just 'fight' we'll wage an all out war on Trump and Republicans if they attempt to cut either program.

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