FROM Fred Lynch
Zero-Sum Politics in an Age of Austerity It's no surprise that older Americans have accumulated more wealth and earn more income than their children and grandchildren. But a recent study shows the gap is growing much faster than previously reported. The growing federal deficit and demands for spending cuts create a sense of scarcity that's pitting Americans against one another. We look at the impact of that and other "fault lines" between Americans in this election year.
The Politics of Austerity It's no surprise that older Americans have accumulated more wealth and earn more income than their children and grandchildren. But a recent study shows the gap is growing much faster than previously reported, leading to age-based competition for federal benefits. Older conservatives who see the pie shrinking view programs to help younger people, and even the poor, as threats to Medicare and Social Security. That fear has energized the Tea Partiers, and Occupy Wall Street is the first sign of youthful resistance as the struggle for scarce resources turns nasty. Meantime, well-off elites face a middle class plagued with unemployment and a sense of deprivation. What are the implications for this year's campaigns?
Is AARP Leading the Way to Cuts in Social Security? Last week, the Wall Street Journal quoted John Rother, policy director of the AARP saying, "The ship was sailing. I wanted to be at the wheel when that happens." What he was talking about was AARP's decision that cuts in Social Security might be necessary. In Washington, and around the country, the reaction was deafening. Had AARP changed its position? Should Social Security become part of deficit reduction? We hear an argument directly affecting America's most reliable voting bloc.
Social Security, the AARP and the Deficit With 37 million members and a massive budget, AARP claims it's the voice in Washington for senior citizens, America's most reliable voting bloc. But last week, AARP created a firestorm by saying it would consider "modest" cuts in Social Security benefits. The Wall Street Journal quoted AARP Policy Director John Rother saying, "The ship was sailing. I wanted to be at the wheel when that happens." In Washington, and around the country, the reaction was deafening. Deficit hawks said it's about time, but other defenders of Social Security accused the organization of selling out the very people it claims to represent. Has AARP provided an opening for America's most popular social program to be put on the deficit chopping block?
Terrorism and tweets, hate speech and murder Just days before an election, Britain is coping with a rash of deadly terrorism, and Prime Minister Theresa May is on the defensive. And again today, President Trump has tweeted criticism of the Mayor of London. Later, a double murder in Portland, Oregon has revealed the ugly past of a supposedly “progressive” city. One immediate question: is “hate speech” protected by the First Amendment?
Is the threat from Russia missing from the Russia meddling probe? There's much being made about the Trump administration's possible ties with Russia. But the bottom line is Russia's effort to influence American democracy. Do the President and his aides care enough to take action before voters go back to the polls?
Who's to blame for the opioid crisis? Some of the lawyers who took on Big Tobacco are now going after Big Pharma. It’s all about the deadly epidemic of opioid use. Are the drug companies to blame? What about the users? Later, on today’s Talking Point: making sense of Britain’s upset election.
The Trump agenda: where's the beef? President Trump says big things are happening. After celebrating a House bill on health care, he doesn’t yet have Senate agreement. With James Comey’s public testimony scheduled tomorrow, the President today tweeted his selection of a new FBI Director. Is the Chief Executive all style and no substance? Later, terror attacks in Iran and conflicting claims about who’s behind them.