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Posted by on Feb 2, 2010 in Politics, Society | 15 comments

What Will the AARP Have to Say?

David Brooks’ suggests that senior citizens organize to advocate changes to their government-provided benefits; specifically, changes that would take from them and give back to younger generations.

With that suggestion, Brooks probably will not win many friends among the senior set — especially not with a headline that labels them “geezers” — but the idea is nonethelss provocative and something like it might eventually prove necessary, given our stubborn deficit conundrum.

Not so fast, responds Dean Baker.

… if David Brooks and other so-called educated people want to ignore these taxes [that benefit seniors], then we should also talk about the money the government pays out to the super-rich, like investment banker and big-time Social Security foe Peter Peterson, as opposed to poor children.

Peterson has well over $1 billion in wealth. Let’s suppose that he has 10 percent or $100 million in government bonds. This means that he would be getting around $3.5 million in interest checks each year from the government. By comparison, the total payments — SCHIP, food stamps, EITC — going to support a poor kid would probably not even sum to $10,000. This means that the taxpayers are giving Peter Peterson $350 for every dollar that we give to poor kids. Isn’t that an outrage?