Millennials gravitate toward their elders in this 2020 presidential election.
They prefer Bernie Sanders, the oldest Dem candidate at age 78, or Joe Biden, 77, or even Elizabeth Warren, spring chicken of the trio at age 70, to one of their own: Pete Buttigieg.
Mayor Pete is a millennial himself, only 37 years old, a Harvard-educated Rhodes Scholar and a veteran in the Navy Reserve who served in Afghanistan. For some reason he elicits “meh” from the millennials and their juniors in Generation Z.
Yet he runs especially strong among voters ages 65 and older. In the grappling for first vote of the season, the Iowa caucuses, Buttigieg is number one among likely Democrat caucus-goers over age 65, with 28%, leading even Joe Biden, a Des Moines Register survey finds.
“He reminds everyone of their favorite grandson,” a local Democratic county chairman tells The New York Times.
So Pete Buttigieg can proceed without any fear of losing the millennial vote, which he lacks to begin with. Thus, the self-titled Retirement Guy just released what he calls a Gray New Deal for older Americans, proposing to boost their Social Security and Medicare benefits now even as Boomers are passing age 65 at the rate of ten thousand more people every day.
This added burden could hurt millennials the most. They now comprise the largest cohort in the work force, some 50%, and their peak earnings years are coming soon, amidst an entitlements system already struggling and now paying out more in benefits each year than it takes in. A devastating breakdown of the Buttigieg blueprint appeared on Saturday in an editorial in The Wall Street Journal. You can check it out here.
Whoa, Millie! The new Pete plan proposes a cornucopia of expanded benefits and boosted minimum payments. He wants to pay Social Security benefits to unpaid family caregivers who haven’t paid anything in SocSec taxes. And create a new public 401(k) option with forced employer matches. And an entirely new entitlement for nursing-home care at $33,000 per year for each elderly American. And Medicaid expansion to add new waves of patients earning three times as much as the current limit and let them still qualify for benefits.
Even more, Mayor Pete would push the federal government more deeply into regulation of nursing homes, dictating their staffing levels, making rate-setting “recommendations” (read: price caps), imposing annual inspections — and even requiring publicly funded care programs to “assess family caregivers.” A bureaucrat would conduct a home inspection to rule on whether you are taking adequate care of your elderly, Alzheimer’s-afflicted spouse. Just great.
To finance this rapacious and costly expansion, Buttigieg wants to impose a new Social Security tax on all earnings beyond $250,000 per year. Right now, you pay a SocSec (FICA) tax of 6.2% on income of up to $132,900, and your employer pays another 6.2%. Any income above that level avoids further FICA tax. Pete wants a cut of that — to hand it to millies’ grandparents.
It is a great deal for older Americans: they would get even more benefits, pegged to rise with inflation, without having to pay anything more in taxes, as they have retired from the workforce. It is a raw deal for millennials (those born between 1981 and 1996, ages 23 to 38 today). They will end up paying the most for the gimme-gimmes that Mayor Pete wants to offer, now, to their elders, the Baby Boomers (born 1944 to 1964).
When Social Security started in the 1960s, we had more than six workers paying in to the system for every one person getting benefits; and the average beneficiary lived only until age 70. Now we have only three workers paying in to Social Security for each retiree taking out benefits, and elderly retirees live almost a decade longer.
Other Dem candidates’ proposals would weigh heavily on millennials, as well, particularly Warren’s $20 trillion tax hike to fund her crazy Medicare for All plan. Just as #GreedyLizzie’s Medicare for All revealed how radically liberal she truly is, Mayor Pete’s Gray New Deal will do the same for him.
He stops short of ever revealing how much all of it would cost. Maybe he doesn’t care how much it would cost — after all, his supporters, the grey-headed ranks of the Boomers, won’t have to pay for it. They would reap the windfall.
Dennis Kneale is a writer and media strategist in New York. Previously he was an anchor at CNBC and at Fox Business Network, after serving as a senior editor at The Wall Street Journal and managing editor of Forbes. He helped write “Wealth Mismanagement: A Wall Street Insider on the Dirty Secrets of Financial Advisers and How to Protect Your Portfolio,” by Ed Butowsky, published in August 2019 by Post Hill Press. To read more of his reports — Click Here Now.
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