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This article got my blood boiling.
Americans overwhelmingly say that in general they prefer cutting government spending to paying higher taxes.
A comforting thought, and a bit of a no-brainer. Problem is, as we will see, that these Americans, who more than likely belong to the Baby Boomer generation, haven't given much thought beyond this sentiment. So, when they're pressed with specifics, they back off.
Yet their preference for spending cuts, even in programs that benefit them, dissolves when they are presented with specific options related to Medicare and Social Security ...
This paragraph, if I read it correctly, is poorly written. What happens is that when specific cuts are proposed, to programs that will benefit them, people back off from the desire of wanting cuts. Who is them? Baby Boomers would be the logical guess. Medicare and Social Security are two programs that Baby Boomers have banked on ... yet they're also the ones who have elected politicians who have routinely expanded those programs which have dwindled their reserves. Of course, the Baby Boomers want to pass the buck and keep those programs intact.
Nearly two-thirds of Americans choose higher payroll taxes for Medicare and Social Security over reduced benefits in either program.
Yeah, no kidding. Higher payroll taxes because they're all reaching retirement age and won't have to pay those taxes, yet reap the full benefit of those programs. Farcical, just like these suggestions ...
But given a choice of often-discussed revenue options, they preferred a national sales tax or a limit in the deduction for mortgage interest to a higher gasoline tax or taxing employer-provided health benefits.
Baby Boomers more than likely have their mortgages paid off, so the loss of mortgage deductions won't bother them. And worrying about taxes to health benefits? Won't impact the Baby Boomers one iota who will be moving to Medicare. The remaining taxes proposed here also will impact the younger generations more than they will the Baby Boomers. With jobs, the younger generation will use more gas and will have more "disposable income" so those two taxes will impact them more.
Americans’ sometimes contradictory impulses on spending and taxes ...
Like I said, if I read this article correctly, there is no contradictory impluse when considering the age of people who were most likely polled. If it's the Baby Boomer generation it is entirely consistent with a selfish generation. They don't want to increase taxes, because who would want to pay higher taxes. However, when faced with the proposition that by not increasing taxes they'll lose programs that will benefit them, they change their mind and support taxes in areas which will not impact them (or the impact will be significantly less).
Personally, I'd like to see a severe reworking of Social Security, Medicare, and the Military. We also need a systematic look into Medicare and Medicaid fraud, and a pulling back of military committments. Washington DC needs to get free of the grip of lobbyists and really do whats necessary for the country*. I think that by doing these things, we'd be able to not only get back on track financially, but it'd free up some money for national innovation to support and increase education and technology.
*A token billion dollar cut, when the deficit is fourteen TRILLION does no one any good.
ETA: Additional Reading
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First- where we might agree: I am, compared to most people, a big fan of raising taxes. On people like me. Also, people like wealthy or even just comfortable upper middle class babyboomers. Pretty much everybody, actually. When I played with that deficit reduction thingy a while back, I got it done with about 50% spending cuts and about 50% tax increases. So I've got that in the back of my mind as the 'ideal'.
Second- where I think you are off your gourd: Ok, you wanna explain how the poll got mostly babyboomers?
So, landlines are gonna bias it toward non-cellphone relying people... that'll do it somewhat.
But it says very clearly "The combined results have been weighted to adjust for variations in the sample relating to geographic region, sex, race, Hispanic origin, marital status, age, education and number of adults in the household."
Seriously. This is like ranting about a paper but not reading the materials and methods. They tell you how the did the poll.
Third, here's what *I* think is the best part of that poll: "if you had to pick one, which would you choose to cut (out of 'education' 'roads bridges and other infrastructure' 'science and medical research' 'aid to the unemployed and poor' 'no opinion')"
Repubs that say 'science and medical research': 26%
Dems that say 'science and medical research': 23%
Wait. What? You mean despite being the party of Palin-of-the-what's-a-fruitfly-good-for, repubs are NOT hugely more likely to want to cut science and medical research?
What do you want to bet that little fact will be completely glossed over by all the liberal scientist blog echo chamber?
*sigh*. Is 23 better than 26 (in context)? yep. is a 3 trillion dollar debt better than a 3.7 trillion dollar one (from the bush tax cut extension plans favored by the dems vs. the republicans)? yes. But we are not talking HUGE differences. We need an *actual* liberal party.
Becca, look at the last page. Almost half (48%) were people 45 and up. That's Baby Boomers or people well into retirement and already benefitting from Social Security and Medicare. The other two groups make up the remaining half and are roughly split between young adults either in college or starting careers, and those who are mid-career. How that means I'm off my gourd, I haven't the slightest. Did I overreached by placing all the blame on Baby Boomers when instead I should have said "old geezers" in general? Either way, the point is the same ... the younger generation is being asked to foot the bill for the mistakes of the past generations.
They *weighted it by age*. What does that mean? That if they polled babyboomers *out of proportion with their representation in the US* they simply paid less attention to what any one individual said. This is not a hard mathematical concept.
Of course, neither is 'majority' (i.e. >50%). And "baby boomer" isn't such a tricky concept either, although a little squishy (i.e. up to about age 65, not the ones over. You are ranting about 'baby boomers and older geezers' or 'baby boomers and already retired people'- you rant about baby boomers).
Of course, it's possible that 48% of the population is over the age of 45, and weighting things didn't affect the results much.
In which case, I have to ask, what if you ask any given 48% of the US how we should pay taxes and they mostly give answers that emphasize the other 52%? You could pick it on age, or gender, or race or anything. I see no reason it's not just
"'from the *taxpayers* a big 'screw you'"
What does it mean? It means that if Baby Boomers do make up a majority of those polled (and it does look like it since it accounts for the entirety of the 45-64 age group which is the largest polled group in the poll, and a portion of the ambiguous 65+ group ... up to age 68), their answers counted less. Since the answers already trended in the direction of "keep programs that benefit the aged, increase taxes on the youngest Americans", if that's how a majority of the Baby Boomers answered, the results would be even more strongly in favor of what I ranted against if they were unweighted.
Personally, I'd love to see the raw numbers partly because I'm convinced it would support my position that the younger generations are going to get stuck with the bill. There is no way that the generations that preceeded Generation X (my generation) are going to allow us to make the reforms that are necessary. In part because they're the generation in power and have been for awhile (how many Gen X'ers are in positions of politican power?), inpart because we let them get away with it by not voting as a coherent bloc. We're screwed, plain and simple.
That's why this was labeled a rant, and is on a blog, and is not scientific discourse.
FTR, I was using 1943 as the starting year for the Baby Boomer generation. Others (such as the AARP) have it starting in 1946.
You can blame the baby boomers only so much, the rest of the world the same problem of an aging and decreasing population. Yet the US has this amazing cult of personality in government, and an amazing level of pandering to the hoi polloi, and an amazingly low turn out rate for voting. It really is a perfect storm for well organized lobby groups to push the balance of power in any given election...
It's very nice to rant. But most political rants usually degrade into overgeneralizations and finger pointing.
Politics is the mindkiller, even for scientists
I showed my dad, a baby boomer, this and he so eloquently said, "Yeah we fucked it up for everyone. And sadly most of us don't care to fix it and those that do won't live long enough to be able to change the situation."
Yeah, the whole thing is a mess. I know the conservatives are talking tough when it comes to their "adult moment" and that they'll push through fixed to the three of the programs I mentioned above. However, I doubt they'll touch the military (we'll still be on the hook for two wars, and who knows where else the hawks will get us involved with in the next few years), and I bet they'll back off from Medicaid, Medicare, and Social Security once they've been lobbied and threatened with loss of votes. Which means the cuts will come from the smallest portion of our budget (i.e., the ares that cuts "can" be made but won't amount to anything substantial). That smallest portion of our budget also happens to support education, energy, infrastructure, research, transportation ... all vital parts of society that are already being neglected. So they we get to pay more, get less, and watch our nation further sink under the burden of an expanding deficit. Yippie!