While some of the Republican presidential candidates continue to focus almost exclusively on the economy, Politico writes, “Medicare-aged seniors could have the biggest impact on the 2012 elections — and that’s a bad sign for the person who just overhauled their health care, according to the LA Times.”
In a striking act of political brazenness, President Obama and the Democratic Congress decided to fund Obamacare through a roughly even mixture of tax hikes and reallocations of funds slated for Medicare. In all, the Congressional Budget Office estimates that $1.125 trillion would be siphoned out of Medicare and other related federal health programs and spent on Obamacare during the overhaul’s real first decade (2014 to 2023). Obama’s signature legislation also established the grisly Independent Payment Advisory Board (IPAB), which would be charged with limiting Medicare spending in the future. In his budget do-over speech, Obama proposed to grant the IBAP even more power to cut Medicare spending (thereby, in his words, “further improving Medicare”).
The Los Angeles Times writes, “The U.S. heads into the 2012 presidential contest with a large generation gap in its politics — a rarity in American elections and one that, at least for now, has boosted prospects for a Republican victory, new [Pew Research Center] survey data show….Researchers divided the respondents into four age groups: millennials (ages 18 to 29), Generation X (30 to 46), baby boom (47 to 65) and the silent generation (66 to 83).”
The Times continues,
“[I]n 2008 the generation gap gave Democrats an advantage because of the enthusiasm of their youthful supporters. This time, Republicans have an advantage because of the much higher level of engagement and interest among their voters in the older bloc.
“‘They’re much more angry at our political system and the government,’ said Andrew Kohut, president of the Pew center.
“That anger, often directed at Obama, has energized older, conservative voters about the coming election, and it exists despite their relative economic security….
“Instead of economic troubles, the anger and frustration of older Americans have ‘more to do with their views about the country,’ Kohut said. ‘They look at an America that’s quite different than what they knew many years ago,’ and ‘they don’t see change for the better.’
“By contrast to the anger among older Americans, the younger group appeared disillusioned, disappointed with Obama and far less interested in the coming election.”
The poll does highlight one area of concern for the GOP, however: Much as Obama has engendered anger by using Medicare as a principal funding source for Obamacare, the GOP presidential candidate will be on thin ice if he or she appears to view Social Security as a potential pool of revenue for use in cutting the budget deficit. Pew’s write-up says, “Silents prefer the Republican Party on most issues, with Social Security a notable exception. Silents are about evenly divided over whether the Democrats or the Republicans can better handle Social Security.” The Times adds, “All four age groups agreed that maintaining current Social Security and Medicare benefits should take a higher priority than steps to reduce the federal budget deficit. On those two options, the split among the youngest group was 53% to 43%; among the oldest it was 64% to 27%.”