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Friday, January 28, 2011

 
Squeezing The Wrong Demo

by digby

Ezra Klein has a good post with an interesting graph showing what I am seeing among my friends:




That doesn't count the underemployed, which afflicts even more people my age. They lost good paying jobs and are now toiling at part time work or contracting that pays substantially less than what they made before. Strangely, it turns out that nobody is eager to hire 50 year olds at the wages they spent 25 years working their way up to and they aren't very excited about having a bunch of old duffers around the office or the factory when they can get young people to do it for much less and lower health care costs.

Here's the political problem with this scenario. This is the baby boom and there is a huge number of them. You can ignore them and pretend that it doesn't matter that this huge group is rapidly going through their meager retirement savings, but unless you are prepared to kill them, they're going to be around for quite a while. And they are getting poorer rather than richer, what with the real estate and stock market crashes at the worst possible time in their lives --- they're still putting kids through college and taking care of aging parents. It's a real squeeze.

I know it's fashionable for Democrats these days to write the baby boom off as a lost cause --- apparently, it's assumed they're all going to vote for Republicans forever because the oldsters are all voting for them today. But it's really not a good idea to let that happen -- there are simply way too many of them and they will vote far more reliably than under 30s do. Older people are just more interested in politics --- especially when they are financially screwed and have no time to make the money back.

We can thank Joe Lieberman for one thing: he shot down the Medicare buy-in for 55 year olds, which would have been a huge, huge benefit for all these people and cemented their loyalty to the Democratic Party for the rest of their lives. But that would have made the hippies happy and Holy Joe was having none of it. Too bad.

Update: I also have to point out that for those of us in the individual health insurance market --- as most of those unemployed 50 somethings are --- the health care bill is extremely inadequate. It's very expensive for us and when I did the famous HCR calculator, I found out that my savings from the bill will be minimal. And I don't make much money. I suppose a few of them will qualify for medicaid, but if you have any assets at all, you're stuck in the private market and it's brutal for people over 50 --- just when your health usually starts to be an issue.

I think this is a political time bomb. The only thing Dems have going for them is that Republicans are trapped in their ideology and can't really do much of anything but lie and misdirect. But that's a very thin reed.


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