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Politics protect baby boomers in budget fight

Differences aside, there is one thing Republicans and Democrats have in common when it comes to their budget proposals: They are both are friendly to baby boomers.

Senate Democrats and House Republicans both introduced federal budget plans this week. Republicans are calling for spending cuts and tax reductions, while Democrats are proposing a "balanced approach" which would increase tax revenues and cut spending.

Differences aside, there is one thing both plans have in common: They are both are friendly to baby boomers. Marketplace economics correspondent Chris Farrell joins Morning Report host Jeremy Hobson to explain how and why older voters are being spared from proposed Medicare and Social Security cut backs.

About the author

Chris Farrell is the economics editor of Marketplace Money.
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Some of these comments seem to be a bit emotional--perhaps understandably so, but I think Chris was right on target. If you still get to vote for your representatives, the changes in rules should affect you too, regardless of your age.

I agree that the word "entitlement" is now loaded and probably shouldn't be used anymore, but we've all known for years that there "might" not be enough left in the Social Security basket, and yet we haven't insisted that our representatives do something about it. A small increase in the tax rates would have solved the problem, and might still. We who still contribute should be protesting more vociferously: the system should treat everyone equally, including our representatives.

Chris Farrell, you hit this one right on the head. Mr. Ryan has been using a cynical political ploy. The reality of getting Boomers the full-monty and the Millenials to pay for it.

Friedrich Hayek, an economist that many on the right like to cite, argued that really bad policy arises from the picking of winners and losers by a government. A fair and equitable government simply makes rules and regulations which applied equally to all thereby creating the same playing field on which everyone may participate fairly. Hayek wasn't against regulation or taxation. In fact, he spent years trying to convince many ultra-right conservatives in the 1950's that they were miss using his ideas. Today, Mr. Ryan, his allies on the right as well as his adversaries (my friends) on the left, are all part of a U.S. Congress and Senate that continue applying legislation unevenly to various voting or donating blocks. As such Mr. Ryan really understands how to give with one hand and take with another. Put another way Congressman Ryan is picking winners: Boomers with full Medicaid, Medicare and Social Security (because they are a bigger voting block), Mellenials with a dismantled husk of what came before them (because the are a smaller voting block).

Nice Mr. Ryan.

Chris Farrell's commentary practically ruined my morning. I have by no means been ignoring my retirement funds. I have been squirreling away what I could from a public servant's salary for the last 30 years in a 403(b). Alone, it will not be enough to see my husband and me through retirement. Nor will the defined pension plan payouts, if that plan remains unchanged, that I am scheduled to receive at and through retirement. Even together, those two payments will not be enough. Solely and only with Social Security payments added in, at current projected amounts for each of us, will be be able to get by. For Mr. Farrell to suggest that my husband and I do our duty and take cuts with everyone else is to ensure that we, and many many others, will be an even bigger burden to the Millennials.

I am deeply disappointed that NPR (via Chris Farrell, and in all discussions of Social Security and Medicare) is continuing to label these earned benefits as "entitlements"! S.S. and Medicare are certainly NOT entitlements and should not be lumped together with Medicaid and other unearned benefits. I worked and contributed part of my salary to S.S. since I was 18 years old -- I am now 66. I loaned my Social Security contribution to the government with the understanding that it would earn interest and be there for me in my so-called "golden" years -- it is NOT an "entitlement"! When I fully retire, I will have almost NO retirement income except Social Security. This is because I had a nearly-fatal illness about 8 years ago, was forced to stop working while ill and recovering, and had to use all my personal and 401K savings just to get by for several years.

For those who have pensions and other sources of income, proposed cuts in S.S. and Medicare may not have a big impact. But for me (and many, many others) any cuts could be catastrophic, forcing me into poverty.

NPR, you are projecting a false understanding of Social Security and Medicare to your listening audience. I don't understand this and am very upset about it!

If they truly believe that this is what is needed, don't exempt anyone from the changes. Include those all ready retired, baby boomers, etc.

I had hoped Marketplace was the one place on the radio that I could get unbiased information without misleading political sophistry from either the left or the right, but the interview with Chris Farrell this morning leaves me questioning if it is. Okay Chris, you don’t like Paul Ryan. We get it. I don’t like him either, I reject his partisanship just as I do that of the left, but to rationalize your political poison pill proposition of not exempting older workers from entitlement change by saying that people don’t plan retirement finances based on what is now in place is fallacious nonsense. Every retirement financial planning tool available does exactly that.

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