Feel the Big (Very Big) Chill, O Baby Boomers!

Thursday, February 18, 2016

Feel the Big (Very Big) Chill, O Baby Boomers!

In a recent column covering Bernie Sanders’s campaign for President, I began to understand his popularity with young people. His ability to stir them to action is, in fact, a cynical use of his own polling date. Sanders no doubt knew at least a year ago that he would not be able to make any inroads by promising to make a difference in the lives of aging baby boomers, so he decided to focus his campaign promises on those who were soft and susceptible targets: the young.

I can certainly sympathize with the plight of the young; their attraction to a pied piper who promises Medicare for all, funding for child care, and free college tuition is easily understandable. I would ask his youthful supporters, however, to compare the promises made to them and the penury behind his plans for those who have worked all their lives to maintain this country’s flirtations with prosperity.

In addressing his enthusiastic and largely youthful audience, Sanders’s most important issues and their subsets are:

Medicare for all
Planned Parenthood
Family leave
child care

Wealth inequality
minimum wage increase
tax on Wall Street speculation
prosecute Wall Street offenders
trade policy
campaign finance reform
free college tuition

Nothing on this list addresses the very real economic crisis this country faces in dealing with an enormous surge in aging citizens during the next 20 years. Let’s compare what Sanders is offering two different generations. On one hand, he is offering free college tuition to young people. On the other hand, if you take a look at his proposals for social security on his website, he is planning a tax on the higher income brackets that will allow an average increase in social security income of $65 a month.

And that is the overwhelming bulk of his “progressive” plan for the Baby Boomer generation.

The total amount of improvement in old people’s lives will be less than a thousand dollars a year. In fact, less than $800 a year, plus a piddling raise to account for a minimal amount of inflationary pressure. Total amount of peanuts tossed to the Baby Boomers: somewhere between $900 and $950 a year.

The last time I checked, you can’t pay for a lot of college with $1000 a year. Sanders is basically saying that for every $30 he will spend on the young, he will spend $1 on the aging.

In privileging a specific segment with almost all the benefits of progressive change, Sanders is egregiously pitting one generation against another, and doing so only because it suits his quest for power. He has no more respect for the Baby Boomer generation than President Obama has had. Obama threw the working people of the Baby Boomer generation overboard without a life vest, and he did so with full knowledge of what he was doing. Sanders is equally determined to throw Baby Boomers under the steamrollers.

I find it extraordinary that Sanders would have the nerve to call himself a progressive, and yet not even think out the basics of what the Baby Boomers in this country will need in the next twenty years. According to a recent report, the real shortage in doctors will be those specializing in gerontology. It does not escape me that he speaks up for child care, but has no plans for caring for the old. He urges voters to endorse a program of Medicare for all, and that is indeed a worthy goal; I would like to hear Sanders first explain his exact provisions for adequate medical care for those whose taxes have propped up the Medicare system all their lives. Without a sufficient number of properly trained doctors, one must as well come out and say it: “I don’t care about you.” In truth, I suspect that Sanders’s medical plan for aging Baby Boomers is not much different than the GOP attitude: “Just hurry up and die, would you?”

“Feel the Bern”? The only thing that Baby Boomers should feel is how — yet again — we are the ones who are going to get burned.