Why ask retirees about changes that won’t affect them?

A request for any pollsters asking the public about changes to Medicare or Social Security: Will you please stop asking people 65 and older what they think?

It’s not that I have anything against retirees, but including them in opinion polls such as the CBS/New York Times poll released this week is skewing the results — and the policy decisions those results may influence.

Here’s why: No one is proposing to change the deal for people who have already retired. Even Paul Ryan’s allegedly “Draconian” budget plan exempts Americans 55 and older from any changes.

One reason is simple politics: Older people vote more consistently than younger ones. But it’s also of course a matter of fairness. People who are no longer working don’t have the opportunity to earn income to make up for anything they lose. They based their retirement planning on particular promises from their employers and the government, and it would be unfair to change those promises now. I think we all get that.

So, the chances of a change in Medicare or Social Security for those who are already retired are nil. With that said, here’s what I mean about the effect of asking retirees: From the CBS/NYT poll:

Willing to See Medicare Spending Cut?

All 18-29 30-44 45-64 65+
Yes 48% 57% 48% 47% 37%
No 45% 38% 42% 48% 56%

-

Change Medicare to Private-Insurance Program?

All 18-29 30-44 45-64 65+
Approve 47% 53% 50% 47% 32%
Disapprove 41% 30% 41% 42% 55%

-

If you look at the “All” numbers for either question, it looks like a very close call — slim pluralities favor each approach. But the results for the younger age groups look a lot different from the ones for the 65+ one. I’d like to know what the “All” numbers would look like for just 18-to-64-year-olds, but the poll doesn’t have cross-tabs breaking down the number of respondents by age group.

Suffice it to say, however, that they would look very different.

So, here’s my proposal: If we all agree that the deal isn’t going to change for retirees, can we also agree that the debate going forward needs to be among those who will have to live with, and pay for, whatever changes are made?

– By Kyle Wingfield

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86 comments Add your comment

Junior Samples

April 22nd, 2011
12:01 pm

How much could we save if we stopped subsidizing the oil companies with money and blood?

Peter

April 22nd, 2011
12:01 pm

This is the GOP lie about spending…… They want to cut all kinds of programs for American’s at home…..but want to continue to wage wars with American Tax payer money !

April 22, 2011

McCain: Increase military support to Libyan rebels


By SEBASTIAN ABBOT, Associated Press Sebastian Abbot, Associated Press
BENGHAZI, Libya – U.S. Sen. John McCain is calling for increased military support for the Libyan rebels fighting Moammar Gadhafi’s forces, including providing weapons, training and giving close air support to the opposition on the battlefield.

The Arizona Republican senator said at a news conference Friday in the rebels’ stronghold in eastern Libya that all nations should recognize the opposition’s Transitional National Council as the legitimate voice of the Libyan people.

He said nations need to provide the council with “every appropriate means of assistance,” including “command and control support, battlefield intelligence, training and weapons.”

It is quite obvious we got into the financial mess because of War spending without a way to recoup the money…and here is the guy who would continue to spend like Bush !

Junior Samples

April 22nd, 2011
12:05 pm

Do you honestly believe that insurance companies will do the right thing when you reach retirement?

Kyle Wingfield

April 22nd, 2011
12:13 pm

Peter: First, it is patently ridiculous to slam only Republicans about “war spending” when a Democratic president is the one who got us into Libya.

Second, I’ve had it up to here with your single-topic, off-topic, never-ending, repetitive rants. One more time, and you’ll have to find another blog to try your shtick.

Kyle Wingfield

April 22nd, 2011
12:13 pm

Junior: Do you honestly believe the IPAB will?

that's goofy

April 22nd, 2011
12:29 pm

I know why +56 crowd is asked: because they are Americans. They get to vote – so their opinion still matters. The Ryan plan may not impact them – but it will impact their children and grandchildren.

Toby

April 22nd, 2011
12:31 pm

“never-ending,repetitive rants” Would that not describe the opinion writer?

HDB

April 22nd, 2011
12:37 pm

The problem is that many of the policies that will invoke change WILL affect those in retirement….and seemingly adversely!! Should they NOT have the right to voice their opinions???

Peter

April 22nd, 2011
12:39 pm

OK Kyle…….Today’s topic about cutting medicare and social security, I would assume to cut the deficit correct ?

And then at the same time the GOP Presidential candidate wants to get us to spend millions on a new conflict…..so how don’t they effect each other ?

I am not in favor of policing the world….so I am not happy with Obama getting us into that situation…..and spending continuously on War is what got America broke today.

You also have avoided the questions I posed to you yesterday about the fuel of the future.

Since that was the main point of the topic. You stated Auto Gas was no longer going to be taxed, and all these new tolls had to be set up to make up the financial shortfall.

John

April 22nd, 2011
12:39 pm

This blog is ridiculous. Your premise is older Americans should be polled since it doesn’t affect them…yet they are votes. Because they are voters, their votes counts which in turn means their opinions matter when it comes to polls. When a vote is taken for tax increases, for instance, everyone has a right to vote…not just those who would be impacted by the increase. We all have a say in the debate.

As far as your proposal…do you propose the same for every topic that’s being debated. Should only union members be debating the Republicans plans to bust up the unions? Should only illegal immigrants be debating the issue? The list can go on and on.

Junior Samples

April 22nd, 2011
12:47 pm

Private companies will only do what’s right for themselves.
IPAB is a government agency, so we have a fighting chance.

I think the point Peter is trying to make is that all too often our government is focusing our attention to the smoke and mirrors, not getting at the heart of the issue. With defense spending unchecked, no budgetary restraints and out of control, how can we possibly balance the budget?

Unless we implement a war tax. That might make people actually decide if we really want to start a war. Of course, it would be called a Freedom Fee.

Peter

April 22nd, 2011
12:48 pm

Hey Bookman wrote a blog yesterday and got called out…….

But at least he responded by saying he knew that was coming.

It seems if one doesn’t agree with something you said, or talks about the insincerity of the GOP, you are not responding.

There is no doubt in my mind cutting social programs here at home, and ridicules WAR spending go hand in hand…. If we never spend like we did in the Bush Administration, your questions wouldn’t be necessary.

Kyle Wingfield

April 22nd, 2011
12:56 pm

Peter, I did answer your question from yesterday.

Kyle Wingfield

April 22nd, 2011
12:59 pm

HDB: Name one major change that is being contemplated for people already in Social Security or Medicare.

John: We are not asking retirees to shoulder the burden of changes to Social Security or Medicare, for good reason, as I outlined above. All I’m suggesting is that, in return, the debate about what to change and how to pay for it should be among those people for whom the deal will be changed, and who will be asked to pay for it.

Kyle Wingfield

April 22nd, 2011
1:00 pm

“Private companies will only do what’s right for themselves.
IPAB is a government agency, so we have a fighting chance.”

Junior, that’s the problem here. There are a lot of people, myself included, who think the reverse is true.

Peter

April 22nd, 2011
1:04 pm

Kyle…..OK here is what you wrote……

Yes, that means nuclear. And if Peter — whom I tolerate but do not respond to, because he is almost always off-topic and repetitive, and impossible to engage meaningfully, based on my previous attempts to engage him — knew a fraction as much about nuclear as he thinks he does, he would know that the automatic shutdown at Vogtle is a feature of the system, not a bug, and a desirable one at that.

So our cars are going to be powered by Nuclear fuel ? Via Batteries ?

Are you stating the battery inside is going to be charged at home via Nuclear power ?

And by gosh nothing ever bad could happen to Georgia in 40 plus years being that Nuclear is so safe ?

John

April 22nd, 2011
1:08 pm

Instead of focusing on who should be polled, shouldn’t the conversation be focused on the actual polling question.

Instead of “Change Medicare to Private-Insurance Program?” Shouldn’t the question be more like “Completely getting rid of promised medical care via Medicare and you take care of yourself in the unregulated private sector if you can afford to or even find a private company willing to insure you in your retirement years which is supplemented with a voucher from the federal government paid directly to the insurance company that will be worth less with each increase in premium cost forcing you to pay more and more?”

Kyle Wingfield

April 22nd, 2011
1:10 pm

No, John, I don’t think that’s how the question should read.

Peter, I’ll answer you on the original thread.

carlosgvv

April 22nd, 2011
1:13 pm

Kyle, pollsters continue to question people 65 and older, even though politicians have promised this group is exempt from changes, because they know, as you should, that politicians cannot be trusted to keep their word and will yank the rug out from under seniors in a second if they get the chance.

arnold

April 22nd, 2011
1:13 pm

I’m 71 and I vote. That’s why I’m polled. The world does not owe me a living. No one owes me a living. However, there are those less fortunate than I. I will not forget them when the time comes to vote.

Peter

April 22nd, 2011
1:16 pm

Kyle…….I think more American’s are aware corporations and the CEO’s really care mostly about themselves, and the huge money they make for themselves.

Isn’t that really why the out sourcing of American Jobs happened ?

Corporate America is doing fine…..CEO’s make more now compared to the average worker then ever before in history period because they are GREEDY !

I would be interested in that stat if you have it.

American’s also believe that getting the contracts are all about political games, so fewer American’s believe privatization in key areas of our life is the way to go.

Halftrack

April 22nd, 2011
1:18 pm

Kyle; You have missed the point in front of your eyes. The pollsters keep asking the wrong people because they don’t understand or have read the legislation that is proposed. They get this from the Democrats, especially Queen Nancy, who by edict said that you had to pass something before you can find out what’s in it. Seems everyone has put their brain on a shelf.

John

April 22nd, 2011
1:19 pm

Kyle,

“All I’m suggesting is that, in return, the debate about what to change and how to pay for it should be among those people for whom the deal will be changed, and who will be asked to pay for it.”

The point I made is the same. When there’s debate and public vote to raise property taxes, for instance, should only property owners be allowed to be a part of the debate and subsequent vote since property owners are the ones asking to pay for it? But to take your point, then shouldn’t those under 18 be a part of the poll since it will affect them and be paid for them as well?

John

April 22nd, 2011
1:23 pm

“No, John, I don’t think that’s how the question should read.”

Why not Kyle…isn’t that what the Ryan plan does? Gut Medicare and let everyone buy their own health insurance from the unregulated private market with a voucher that will barely cover the cost. We know Republicans are against regulating the private sector. So If a retired person could not afford it or find a company willing to take them, then they’re screwed.

Bart Abel

April 22nd, 2011
1:23 pm

Kyle Wingfield argues that Medicare cuts should be acceptable to seniors because future generations have time to plan for having to pay thousands more each year for Medicare. Well, in case he hasn’t noticed, families have lost a lot of purchasing power over the last few decades, they’re struggling to get by, and future generations are going to need Medicare as much or more than this generation.

I’m not so self-centered that I would support Medicare cuts for my children, nieces, nephews, and grandchildren that I would not support for myself and my wife.

Kyle Wingfield

April 22nd, 2011
1:24 pm

John, I don’t think your counterexamples really apply very well here. It’s not as if non-property owners would be insulated from the effects of that decision; in this case, we are saying that neither the cost nor the benefits for those already on SS and MC are going to change. (Although, on this point, carlosgvv may have raised the best argument to the contrary.) This is simply a unique issue and debate.

On the under-18s, I think the voting age is a fine cutoff point for opinion polling.

Kyle Wingfield

April 22nd, 2011
1:27 pm

John @ 1:23: In fact, the choices offered on the Medicare exchange would be tightly regulated, and the idea that the voucher “will barely cover the cost” is untrue in the present and speculative at best about the future. So, again, I don’t think your wording is accurate.

Kyle Wingfield

April 22nd, 2011
1:32 pm

Bart: Actually, families haven’t “lost a lot of purchasing power over the last few decades.” Income adjusted for inflation and other price fluctuations has in fact risen quite rapidly…see here, for example: http://www.tradingeconomics.com/united-states/gdp-per-capita-ppp

Recent Grad

April 22nd, 2011
1:38 pm

Well, don’t ask me either because by the time I get old enough to need it, it’ll be gone.

Recent Grad

April 22nd, 2011
1:40 pm

Kyle, judging by your last comment at 1:32, I see you’re living in your own private Idaho, so I won’t be disturbing you in future. Enjoy your fantasy.

John

April 22nd, 2011
1:41 pm

Kyle, did you see the CBO report on the worthiness of the voucher being offered under the Ryan plan? As CBO reports, as premiums increase (base on historical fact) the amount of the voucher’s worth decreases. CBO points out that as that happens, Americans will be asking for the amount of the vouchers to increase as well. This is from the CBO.

As far as tightly regulated…name a single Republican who strongly believes in regulating the private sector. Where in the Republican platform, do they support government regulating the public sector. They want to do away with regulations. Part of the reason they almost shut down the government has to do with regulations such as the EPA regulating green house gases.

Bart Abel

April 22nd, 2011
1:46 pm

John is 100% correct. Vouchers will barely cover the cost of health insurance. According to CBO estimates, by 2030, seniors will need to pay $20,000 out of their pockets that year to get the same coverage that seniors get today.

I’m not going to do that to my kids.

http://www.cepr.net/index.php/blogs/beat-the-press/representative-ryan-proposes-medicare-plan-under-which-seniors-would-pay-most-of-their-income-for-health-care

Kyle Wingfield

April 22nd, 2011
1:53 pm

John, I fully expect the amount of the voucher to rise over time, probably even year to year. In fact, if there’s a danger with the voucher, it’s that politicians will be tempted to raise it by so much as to eliminate any cost savings. The idea, though, is to limit spending to an amount we can actually afford, by contributing a set amount.

The problem with cost projections 20 years out is that they can’t take account of changes in the marketplace. We’ve been increasingly subsidizing health care for more than 50 years, and yet some people seem flummoxed that health care costs keep rising.

Mike

April 22nd, 2011
2:11 pm

Because I vote and because I care about the kids and their future more then I care about myself. Ending these programs have been a Republican wet dream my entire life, this is an example of taking advantage of a situation largely created by them in the first place.

Jefferson

April 22nd, 2011
2:20 pm

Only change rules on folks 1st job, or let it be volentary if someone wants some dumb politician’s(RYAN) idea. The programs I paid into and was promised benifits I want. 55 why pick that age, many have been working since they were 16, just because they are in their early 50s don’t mean you should pull the rug out from under them. You are too young and think you can take care of yourself, I doubt you will be able to.

Bart Abel

April 22nd, 2011
2:26 pm

Kyle,

Do you know that when Bill Gates walks into a crowded neighborhood bar, he brings the average annual income for each person in that bar up from $25,000 to $25,000,000? The averages in your chart are distorted by the outliers at the top.

I’ll say it again. People are struggling. Incomes are down. Purchasing power is down. Job security is non-existent. Property values are down.

My college-educated kids are barely able to pay their bills, barely able to save any money, and worried about whether they and their kids are going to scrape up enough money for their college educations. I’d have to be cruel to support a plan that will impoverish them or, if they can’t afford the insurance, lead to their premature deaths. No, that’s not hyperbole.

John

April 22nd, 2011
2:41 pm

“I fully expect the amount of the voucher to rise over time, probably even year to year.”

So you mean increase spending? Do you support increase taxes to support it?

“The idea, though, is to limit spending to an amount we can actually afford, by contributing a set amount.”

And what happens when that set amount doesn’t keep up with the rising costs of insurance premiums.

“We’ve been increasingly subsidizing health care for more than 50 years, and yet some people seem flummoxed that health care costs keep rising.”

Wake up…rising costs is not because of health care being subsidized. As the CBO points out, doing away with Medicare and going to private industry will costs more. The facts are Medicare is cheap compared to what it would costs the same person in the private market. These are the facts which are so often overlooked by Republicans.

John

April 22nd, 2011
2:43 pm

Kyle,

As the CBO points out…seniors, disabled and elderly people would be hit with much higher out-of-pocket health care costs and that by the end of the 10-year budget window, public debt will actually be higher than it would be if the GOP just did nothing.

Jefferson

April 22nd, 2011
2:45 pm

Hospitals would shut down tomorrow if not for medicare.

Kyle Wingfield

April 22nd, 2011
2:55 pm

“…by the end of the 10-year budget window, public debt will actually be higher than it would be if the GOP just did nothing.”

Wrong, John.

“By 2030, total federal spending, deficits, and debt under the proposal would all be lower than under CBO’s June 2010 long-term projections.”

http://cboblog.cbo.gov/?p=2128

Bart Abel

April 22nd, 2011
3:13 pm

I looked at Kyle’s CBO link. Here’s what it says in the last paragraph:

“Under the proposal CBO analyzed, debt would eventually shrink relative to the size of the economy—but the gradually increasing number of Medicare beneficiaries participating in the new premium support program would bear a much larger share of their health care costs than they would under the current program; payments to physicians and other providers for services provided under the traditional Medicare program would be restrained (as under the two scenarios); states would have to pay substantially more for their Medicaid programs or tightly constrain spending for those programs;”

Two things to highlight here. 1) Medicare beneficiaries participating in the new premium support program would bear a MUCH LARGER SHARE of their health care costs than they would under the current program 2) payments to physicians and other providers for services provided under the TRADITIONAL MEDICARE PROGRAM would be restrained

The first item is what we’ve been saying all along. The second items refutes the premise of Kyle’s editorial. If payments are reduced under traditional Medicare, then people over the age of 55 ARE affected. Not only that, but reducing payments to doctors and hospitals is what Obama signed into law last year. Why is it wrong for Obama to do that but it’s okay for Republicans to do it?

buck@gon

April 22nd, 2011
3:14 pm

Kyle,

It is obvious to every conservative that push-polling and Democrat interests trump the truth every time. Have you read Jay Bookman or Cynthia Tucker–obsessed with birthers and encouraging death panels now?

There is nothing, no media in the liberal bias that does not consider electoral politics FIRST beyond all other considerations. It is a constant battle of obfuscation, tap-dance nothing-to-see-here-folks charade the endgame of which is victory in 2012. Failure to achieve that simply means a shift in targets, not tactics.

Honestly, I’m so disgusted with the ajc, I regret ever having given money for such an awful rag years ago when I actually paid for the paper. I feel dirty all over.

Kyle Wingfield

April 22nd, 2011
3:15 pm

Bart: I guess you missed the part of the proposal that says the Medicare provisions would take effect for people entering the program in 2021 and thereafter. So, no — people over the age of 55 as of today would not be affected.

Kyle Wingfield

April 22nd, 2011
3:28 pm

Excuse me, 2022.

Kyle Wingfield

April 22nd, 2011
3:36 pm

However, what is being proposed is letting a group of unelected, unaccountable people decide how to restrain payments to physicians and providers for people in Medicare.

That’s being proposed by the president. And it would affect everyone.

John

April 22nd, 2011
3:41 pm

It is true, Kyle. Here is the full report…http://www.cbo.gov/ftpdocs/121xx/doc12128/04-05-Ryan_Letter.pdf

Look at table 1 on page 3. Under the extended baseline scenario, by 2022 the debt held by the public will is project to be 67%. Under the Ryan plan, by 2022 the debt held by the public is projected to be 70%, I think 70% debt held by the public is higher than 67%…don’t you? It doesn’t decrease till 2030.

wallbanger

April 22nd, 2011
3:44 pm

I know older people vote, but Kyle is right in saying they don’t really have a dog in the fight. yes, they have people they love in the under 55 crowd, but those people will have fair warning that they need to save more, and will be under a new regime, so their wishes should count more than the old folk. They are the ones who will have to make the accommodations if this country is to survive at all.

MarkV

April 22nd, 2011
3:48 pm

No, Kyle, I do not “agree that the debate going forward needs to be among those who will have to live with, and pay for, whatever changes are made?” Because those who live with the current system have the experience with it, how it works and how important it is, while those who have a long way to go before they reach that age may have all kinds of illusions about how they could make more money in the private market.

Kyle Wingfield

April 22nd, 2011
3:49 pm

(sighing) John, many of Ryan’s provisions don’t even take effect until after 2020, especially the parts about Medicare. Why? To appease people like you who complain about what he wants to do…

John

April 22nd, 2011
3:51 pm

“However, what is being proposed is letting a group of unelected, unaccountable people decide how to restrain payments to physicians and providers for people in Medicare.”

Isn’t that what the Ryan plan proposes? Dissolving Medicare and throwing those 55 and under in the private market where people are hired to maximize profits but cutting costs and raising revenue.