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?
White House budget proposal slashes and burns President Trump's first budget request is considered dead on arrival in Congress — a familiar development in Capitol Hill. We hear what it reveals about the priorities of the new administration. What's likely to die… and what might survive?
Trump's 'America First' goes missing abroad In the Middle East, President Trump is changing some policies of the Obama Administration—and reversing his own campaign attacks on Islam as a religion that "hates us." We hear about his visit to Saudi Arabia and what's at stake for the rest of his foreign excursion.
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?
Will the Senate write a healthcare bill in secret? While Democrats and Republicans argue White House relations with Russia, another question is being decided behind closed doors: who gets help buying health insurance and who doesn't? We hear how the pros and cons are being shrouded in secrecy.