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?