The fact is that the over-65 population is, on average, much better off financially than younger groups, for a number of reasons. They get discounts everywhere they go, on everything from cups of coffee to admission to movies, museums, amusement parks and more.
They may have less in raw income, but have more left over at the end of the month, since a majority has paid off their mortgage and their kids are out of college. They don’t have the expenses that those in their 30s and 40s do.
Add to that the findings of a recent study by the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis – that the young and middle-aged were hit much harder by the financial crisis than elders. Income for those younger population groups dropped about 12 percent, while for older Americans it increased by 12-15 percent.
Finally, any honest conversation about sustaining Social Security has to deal with the reality that elders are living much longer than when Social Security began. Then, the average was about three years. Now it is 13 and growing. Pushing the age to collect to 70 or even 72 would not harm the vast majority of elders, and would preserve the program for future generations.
And please, no bogus claims that elders are just, “getting back what they paid in.” That’s not how it works. President George W. Bush tried to make it that way and got smacked down by Democrats.
None of this has to hurt truly poor, sick and dependent elders. That’s why we have welfare, Medicaid and Medicare.
The president and his followers obsess about everybody “paying their fair share.” In this case, a large population group is receiving more than its fair share. That has to end.
Taylor Armerding is an independent columnist. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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