As a codger myself, I think I know why “seniors” voted so overwhelmingly against the Democrats in the recent U.S. midterm elections. The Obama administration and the Democrats in Congress seemed to go out of their way to antagonize older Americans. I’m sure it was inadvertent, but the old folks felt threatened and struck back at the polls.
First, there was all this talk of taking money from Medicare to help fund health insurance reform. Nobody spelled it out, but it seemed obvious that the money would come from a program called Medicare Advantage, which I have personally found to be a godsend. With the prescription legislation (passed under the Bush regime), Medicare Advantage makes my diabetes affordable.
But to Obama, Medicare Advantage was a boondoggle because it cost the government slightly more than straight Medicare did. I suppose the extra money was intended to compensate insurance companies for the administrative services they provide (and which Medicare bureaucrats would otherwise have to provide, probably costing the government even more in the long run).
Obama also gave the impression that aged patients might be denied some kinds of care under the new legislation. He talked often about his mother having her hips replaced when she was dying of cancer and grumbled about how wasteful such treatments are. No he didn’t advocate death panels – as Republicans kept saying he did – but he did seem to favor withholding “unnecessary” treatment in our final days.
Second, there was the decision – two years in a row – not to allow a cost-of-living increase for Social Security recipients. I am sure there was a reasonable statistical justification but it seemed punitive to us old folks. The government figured that the cost of living was not going up, but we know better. The things retired people buy – such as food – have gone way up in the past two years.
Seniors were not swayed by the tiny gratuity we got as part of the stimulus package. The stimulus billions went to a host of projects, many of which are still on the drawing board. But those projects do not benefit seniors. We aren’t looking for jobs; we’re looking for a way to put victuals on the table and gas in the car.
Then there was that infamous bank bailout. Yes, I know the Bush crowd did that. And I know it was the Republicans who caused the economic crash of 2008 by removing the safeguards against recklessly gambling away investors’ money.
But, even after the bankers took the government’s billions and put millions in their own pockets as bonuses, the Obama folks did not change course. They continued the bailout program, and we still don’t know where all that money went.
The stock market crash that accompanied the economic collapse wiped out a lot of retirement investment. And while younger investors have the time to rebuild their portfolios, seniors needed their money right away.
To make matters worse, the Fed has been flooding the banks with free money, sending interest rates plunging.
Seniors who were lucky enough to have some cash left to invest are getting almost no return on their money. A few years ago, they could get 5 or 6 percent interest on a CD; today they would be lucky to get 2 percent. That’s a disastrous blow to older folks who were counting on the interest to supplement Social Security.
Having said all this, I was not about to vote for the Republicans. The Democrats might not have been kind to me personally, but I believed they had the best interests of the nation at heart.
That’s not how most of my fellow-codgers saw it, however. They apparently vented their anger against Obama and the Democrats with no thought of the likely consequences.
In the process, they sent to Washington a pack of loonies who rant against “entitlements” and talk about “privatizing” Social Security and the VA, slashing Medicare, and so on.
What have you done, codgers?
Talk about cutting off your nose to spite your face!