Tales from the Trail

Non-retired Baby Boomers anxious about more than jobs

The Baby Boomers have come a long way from Flower Power. Retirement savings, Social Security and Medicare are weighing heavily on their minds this election season, even if they are still in the workforce.

The AARP surveyed Americans aged 50-64 who are still working, and found that they share younger voters’ worries about the economy ahead of the Nov. 6 election, but their economic concerns extend well beyond jobs. These members of the “Baby Boom” generation worry about rising prices, healthcare costs, financial security when they retire and taxes.

“We know the issue of jobs is very important to voters age 50-plus, but any meaningful discussion of the economy and this year’s election has to include the future of Social Security and Medicare,” Nancy LeaMond, executive vice president of the 37 million-member AARP, said in a statement. “For these voters, ‘retirement security’ and ‘economic security’ are largely the same thing,” she said.

The AARP released an “Anxiety Index” showing that 75 percent of voters age 50-64 who are still working worry somewhat or very often about whether prices will rise more quickly than their incomes, 62 percent worry about health expenses and 71 percent are concerned they pay too much in taxes.

The anxieties are leading to unhappiness with political leaders – 49 percent do not approve of President Barack Obama’s job performance and a full 81 percent do not approve of Congress. They are evenly divided on the question of who should win the White House – with 45 percent supporting Obama, 45 percent backing his Republican rival, Mitt Romney, and another 10 percent not sure.

A Social Security reality check for deficit hawks

President Barack Obama’s fiscal commission is expected to recommend changes to Social Security to help reduce the deficit when it issues its report in early December.FRANCE-PENSIONS/ But protests in France over pension reforms there could serve as a reality check to U. S. deficit hawks who want to raise the U.S. retirement age  and make other benefit changes to the popular  retirement plan.

While they may not go on strike or take to the streets in protest — like is happening in France over a plan to raise the retirement age from 60 to 62  –  older Americans are more likely to show up at the voting booth in November than other groups.

A new survey by the influential AARP, which advocates for older Americans and has 35 million readers for its magazine, shows that lawmakers who embrace deficit reduction  proposals that include cuts for Social Security may do so at their own peril.

Bush: sometimes to save a free market requires doing the opposite

WASHINGTON – Just as you must break a few eggs to make an omelet, President George W. Bush admitted on Monday that saving the free market system required taking non-free market action.

The MBA president has repeatedly said that the actions taken by his administration to shore up floundering financial firms would not have been the first choice for a free-market thinker like himself, but he had no choice in trying to save the U.S. economy.

On Monday, at a global health forum, there was no question that the president saw the irony in the U.S. government intervening in the private sector to prop up the financial system in the name of keeping free markets afloat.