Greedy Geezers?

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The Financial Page November 22, 2010 Issue

As shellackings go, the 2010 election was as comprehensive as it gets. Democrats lost among women, men, high-school graduates, college graduates, Catholics, Protestants, and so on. But there was one demographic group whose repudiation was especially influential: senior citizens. In the 2006 midterm election, seniors split their vote evenly between House Democrats and Republicans. This time, they went for Republicans by a twenty-one-point margin. The impact of that swing was magnified by the fact that seniors, always pretty reliable midterm voters, were particularly fired up: nearly a quarter of the votes cast were from people over sixty-five. The election has been termed the “revolt of the middle class.” But it might more accurately be called the revolt of the retired.

Why were seniors so furious with the Democrats? The weak economy and the huge deficits didn’t help, but retirees have actually been hit less hard by the financial crisis than other Americans. The real sticking point was health-care reform, which the elderly didn’t like from the start. While the Affordable Care Act was being debated, most seniors opposed it, and even after the law was passed Gallup found that sixty per cent of them thought it was bad. You sometimes hear (generally from Republicans) that the health-care bill is wildly unpopular. The truth is that, in every age group but one—seniors—a plurality of voters want to keep the bill intact.

Continue reading here: http://www.newyorker.com/magazine/2010/11/22/greedy-geezers

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