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Wednesday, April 27, 2011

When The Narrative Has Nothing To Do With The Action

First, the Mass House just voted to remove the power to collectively bargain over medical deductibles and copays from local public unions in that state. It's not clear that the measure will get through the Mass Senate. However it passed with a big margin in a House dominated by Democrats elected in a traditionally liberal state. The press talks about Republican initiatives; I see that the state actions do not differ between liberal and more conservative states.

Second, the Vermont legislature has just passed a law that purports to create a single-payer system and the Vermont governor will sign it. But it is unclear how, and there is no specification of funding. What the law does most immediately is to create a panel to figure out a bunch of things, and then in about 2013 they are supposed to figure out how to pay for it. In 2014 they are going to set up an insurance exchange. How that differs from the current situation under federal law I have not figured out yet, except that the fundamental idea is that they want to move towards a state-operated insurance company.

Third, I was fascinated to see this Gallup poll, which reports (article) that support for Paul Ryan's proposals over Obama's is inversely related to age. In other words, the older folks favor it, and the young folks don't.
This is quite surprising, because press coverage has been very unfair to Ryan's plan. Ryan's plan beats Obama's plan by about 6% for all age groups over 30. For age groups under 30, Obama's plan beats Ryan's plan by 23%. That group also has the highest percentage of undecideds (16%), whereas the 65 and up crew has only 10% undecideds.

This is rather consistent with Jimmy J's recent comments. Whatever else is true, it does not seem as if there is actually a younger people vs older people dynamic going on. That's what pundits keep predicting, but I don't see it and this poll really does not confirm it.

This doesn't mean that the older folks in the country actually LIKE Ryan's plan. It may be that they just really don't like Obama's plan. I can't see how Obama's plan really delivers the goods, so if I had had to answer the poll I would have picked Ryan's. But I don't think that Ryan's plan is necessarily workable as it stands, although in all honesty I haven't ever seen him disclose enough to figure out exactly how it is supposed to work. It is not nearly as harmful to poorer retirees as it is said to be, because it sets up a funded MSA for them. It's possible that it is better for poorer retirees than the current arrangement.

It seems probable that lower income seniors could receive much better health care under Ryan's plan than under Obama's, so I am reserving judgment. I don't want to see lower income seniors brutalized. That's my bottom line. As far as I am concerned, a person who worked in a grocery store for his or her entire working life did at least as much for me and society as most "higher status" occupations did; I would like to see the end of the lives of such person be as gracious as possible and their treatment accord with their real worth to society. Earning power does not align well with real human worth.

Jimmy J's (he is in his mid 70s) opinion on certain fiscal matters, as recently expressed on this blog:
I'm in the position where I pay taxes on 85% of my SS. I expect that to go to 100%.

I also expect that increased Medicare co-pays and a basic premium for TriCare will be institued. (If not, they should be.) It won't put me out on the street. It will curb my travel habits. We try to take one big trip a year. Those trips will either cease or be scaled down.

Our needs are less every year, except for medical and dental. So as we scale back on things we used to do (eating out, parties/gifts for friends and family, fishing trips, etc.) we can pick up the slack. So, I am not against those who can afford to pay, paying some of the freight.

That said, I hate to see tax rates raised unless there is some mechanism to keep the sticky fingers of Congress out of the till. When revenues increase they always jack up the spending beyond the increase. Some conservative Rs seem to want to keep a rein on spending, but the overriding bent in Washington is to spend, spend, spend! Fiscally conservative men and women go there and somehow they are changed into spenders. The government has gotten too big and too intrusive. Go to a city council meeting. Half the agenda will be about conforming to Federal rules and regs or getting Federal money. That is just flat wrong and, we the people, are finally waking up to what it is doing to the country.

The best way to increase revenue is to get the economy up and running again. How do we do that? Drill, drill, drill, start fishing and lumbering again, lower the corporate tax, ease EPA regs, and open this country for business again. I don't really care for the Donald, but he is hitting on these issues and its giving him some traction in the polls. A booming economy and a ten year secular bull market would cure a lot of our problems. It's coming if we can elect fiscally conservative people in 2012.
If you read Jimmy's comment and then look through the poll, the rhetoric about selfish seniors doesn't mesh well with reality, does it? Worried seniors I grant you; seniors who are prepared to see every one else die in a ditch (as long as they get theirs) seem to be hard to find on the ground.

I don't know what will happen, but Obama cannot win reelection without the support of seniors in 2012. They were the group that swung very strongly to his side in 2008 and gave him such a strong victory.


Comments:
I'm not surprised at the poll numbers. I was wondering what the under-30 crowd was going to think (in the aggregate). The 30-to-50 bracket has grown up assuming that SS/Medicare would be welfare, at best, not a pension. The under-30's seem to have been much more thoroughly indoctrinated as to the desirability and feasibility of a cradle-to-grave system.
 
Or they are just young and dumb?

I'm thinking they'll grow out of it.
 
I think they should redefine the voting age based on support for Ryan's plan over Obama's. This poll is a loud and proud proclamation by the 18-29 year olds that they are not adults. Maybe Gallup could define the age range of non-adults more precisely, but this break-out is close enough for me.

BTW, MOM, is there any data on which ages ranges pay the most taxes? I have seen many posts on various blogs proclaiming that the bottom 45% of wage earners are net tax sucks, but what about the bottom 45% of workers by age? I am probably in that category (33 yrs old), and even though I am comfortably in the top half of earners, I pay no taxes based on having kids and my mortgage being in the "mostly interest" stage of repayment. Any thoughts?
 
Interesting poll, MOM. I kind of sensed that I was not alone from my attendance at TEA Party rallies. A lot of older geezers there, but the really fired up ones are middle aged small business
owners. The leader of our local group is a single mom who owns a pizza parlor. They have an occasional meeting there with discount pizza as an inducement to show up.

I think a lot of us, myself included, feel blessed that we arrived at old age with some money in the bank. IRAs were instituted under Reagan and they make up a big portion of many of my friends assets. Most of us feel that this country has been good to us. In forty-five years of work I only had 30 days of unemployment. Course I worked my behind off and pinched pennies with an eye to eventual retirement. It's a great country, but it doesn't reward those who are lazy or not careful with their finances.

Shortly after my wife and I went on SS and Medicare, I began to get uneasy about Medicare because I could see the big gap between what the medical professionals billed and what Medicare paid. It seemed a system that was out of whack and I wondered how long it could continue. Well, now I know.

Ryan's Medicare plan won't go into effect for eleven years. I think they need to do something to attempt to shore things up before then, but what do I know? Obviously the Ds don't think anything needs to be done, except raise taxes.

At our age we have to think about the possibility of going into a nursing home someday. I had an aunt who was in a nursing home for four years that was paid for by Medicaid. It was not a wonderful place to spend her last years. That is where a lot of the Medicaid money will go as the Boomers reach that age, unless they have bought Long Term Care Insurance. We've kept our LTC policies paid up and, if needed, will have a choice of places to hang our hats, unlike my aunt.
 
This poll is a loud and proud proclamation by the 18-29 year olds that they are not adults.

That's more an indictment of the compulsory education system and its zero-tolerance attitude than anything else.
 
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