1. souse, n.5: 3. A drunkard. slang (chiefly U.S.). (OED)
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Friday, August 7, 2009

Not So Grandparents

Yglesias argues that those emphasizing the lack of support from seniors for the healthcare overhaul are overlooking how much it's just electoral politics:

But the main issue here just seems to be that people who are inclined to like Obama are inclined to like Obama’s health plan. And for all the attention the press plays to demographic sub-samples, the tendency is for presidential politics to be dominated by pretty broad swings. If Obama were more popular in general, he’d also be more popular with seniors, and his plan would be more popular with seniors. To actually get a majority with seniors, he’d have to be wildly more popular than he currently is.

I disagree. I think the lack of support from the Medicare generation is a huge story -- one I'm getting increasingly angry about, and for two main reasons:

(1) They love their federal healthcare. They are currently the broadest swath of recipients of federal healthcare and are generally quite happy with the Medicare program; which means from experience they should be advocates of an expansion of federal healthcare benefits. It's hugely cynical to rely on national healthcare and then show up at town hall rallies and scream at senators and secretaries of health because, according to one woman, "what I see is a bureaucratic nightmare." The kind of bureaucratic nightmare that replaces kidney, and pays for prescriptions? Sounds a hell of a lot better than the $175 a month plan I've got which I can't use because, being healthy, I can't meet my deductible.

(2) They're checking out before the bill comes due. It is incredibly cynical for seniors to argue for the status quo when they won't have to face the financial cliff that's looming as costs skyrocket over the following decades (to 10% of GDP by 2030, 15% by 2040, etc.). This comes as the Medicare benefits they're currently receiving are projected to exhaust its funds by 2019.

Granted, both of these points run counter to the self-interest and party affiliation of seniors. But from the perspective of the financial and physical health of the nation, their obstructionism is crassly selfish. For a generation that still prides itself on the sacrifices it made for the future and for others, attacking healthcare expansion and reform is morally bankrupt. I have a deep love and respect for my grandparents, what they sacrificed and what they've done. But it's time for the "greatest generation" to get great.

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