The Latest Self-Serving Village Narrative: Screw the Baby Boomers.

Don’t tell me the White House isn’t behind this. Both the New York Times and ABC News are pushing this right now, but the Washington Post jumped on it first with this op-ed by Robert Samuelson on December 26: On Medicare and Social Security, be unfair to the boomers Samuelson, just turned 65 himself, and says he is “part of the problem.” Except he probably doesn’t need Social Security and Medicare, unlike most baby boomers, who never could afford a lifestyle like that of their parents or who lost their retirement investments in the crash of 2008. Samuelson writes:

There has been much brave talk recently, from Republicans and Democrats alike, about reducing budget deficits and controlling government spending. The trouble is that hardly anyone admits that accomplishing these goals must include making significant cuts in Social Security and Medicare benefits for baby boomers.

If we don’t, we will be condemned to some combination of inferior policies. We can raise taxes sharply over the next 15 or 20 years, roughly 50 percent from recent levels, to cover expanding old-age subsidies and existing government programs. Or we can accept permanently huge budget deficits. Even if that doesn’t trigger a financial crisis, it would probably stunt economic growth and living standards. So would dramatically higher taxes. There’s a final choice: deep cuts in other programs, from defense to roads to higher education.

Yet, neither political party seems interested in reducing benefits for baby boomers. Doing so, it’s argued, would be “unfair” to people who had planned retirements based on existing programs. Well, yes, it would be unfair. Indeed, it’s hard to imagine a worse time for cuts. Unemployment is horrendous; eroding home values and retirement accounts have depleted the elderly’s wealth. Only 19 percent of present retirees are “very confident” of having enough money to live “comfortably,” down from 41 percent in 2007, reports the Employee Benefit Research Institute.

Blah, blah, blah. But of course it isn’t “unfair” to reduce taxes on the richest Americans–people who most likely will invest their extra tax money in other countries, people who can easily afford to live in other countries once this one goes down the tubes. Those rich people who control most of the money in the U.S. economy–they aren’t selfish are they? No, of course not. It’s the baby boomers who are selfish, always out for “me, me, me,” and never considering anyone else. But wait…aren’t baby boomers also the sandwich generation–caring for their aging parents as well as their millennial generation children? I think my head is going to explode.

According to a new Marist poll, most Americans think baby boomers should keep working after 65; yet there is evidence that baby boomers are not as healthy as their parents’ generation. Of course that must be the boomers’ fault–just like everything else that has happened during our lifetimes. We’ve been blamed for juvenile delinquency, excess materialism, hippies, illegal drugs, self-absorption, and being horrible parents to the Millennials, who are supposedly highly narcissistic and lacking in empathy.

The fact that we’re supposedly less healthy than our parents couldn’t possibly have anything to do with environmental pollution or increasing income inequality in our society, now could it? No, of course not. It must be because we’re so selfish and self-absorbed. We brought it on ourselves by demanding to be born right after WWII. Oh wait…we didn’t ask to be born. Well, somehow it must be our fault.

Well, I’m not buying it. We paid for our retirement benefits all our lives and now the richest of the rich want to take that away from us too. Supposedly the baby boomer social security “problem” was taken care of by adjustments made in the 1980s under Reagan. It’s not our fault that George W. Bush and Barack Obama decided to steal our money. But this is the narrative we are going to hear from now on until the Villagers manage to destroy Social Security and Medicare.

Here’s The New York Times today: Boomers Hit New Self-Absorption Milestone: Age 65.

In keeping with a generation’s fascination with itself, the time has come to note the passing of another milestone: On New Year’s Day, the oldest members of the Baby Boom Generation will turn 65, the age once linked to retirement, early bird specials and gray Velcro shoes that go with everything.

Though other generations, from the Greatest to the Millennial, may mutter that it’s time to get over yourselves, this birthday actually matters. According to the Pew Research Center, for the next 19 years, about 10,000 people “will cross that threshold” every day — and many of them, whether through exercise or Botox, have no intention of ceding to others what they consider rightfully theirs: youth.

This means that the 79 million baby boomers, about 26 percent of this country’s population, will be redefining what it means to be older, and placing greater demands on the social safety net. They are living longer, working longer and, researchers say, nursing some disappointment about how their lives have turned out. The self-aware, or self-absorbed, feel less self-fulfilled, and thus are racked with self-pity.

I’ve got news for Dan Barry, the author of that article. It isn’t a “generation” that was “fascinated with itself.” It’s a lazy media that pretends that 79 million people are all alike. Give me a break. Even Barry admits that “[a]scribing personality traits to a bloc of 79 million people is a fool’s endeavor,” so why do so many media and government fools keep doing it. I’ll tell you why. They want to turn our Social Security funds over to Wall Street.

Here’s Diane Sawyer’s silly “report” on the baby boomer “problem.” Susie already wrote about it at Suburban Guerrilla:

You have to watch this video to see how insidiously the Villagers are spreading the narrative: Those Baby Boomers are sucking all the money out of the Treasury because they’re just so damned selfish! And only some of them served in Viet Nam! Watch as Diane Sawyer puts on her Very Serious Face and says the deficit is a big problem. Pay attention to the lies scattered throughout.

You can read the rest and watch the video of the oh so very serious Diane Sawyer at Susie’s place or at Crooks & Liars.

I saw this coming a long time ago, back when Obama started beating up on baby boomers and the ’60s during the 2008 primaries. I summarized Obama’s anti-baby boomer narrative in a post a couple of years ago. I’ll get the link for you in a bit. Here are just a few examples of Obama’s attacks on boomers.

From the New York Times: Shushing the Baby Boomers

THE time has come, Senator Barack Obama says, for the baby boomers to get over themselves.

In taking the first steps toward a presidential candidacy last week, Mr. Obama, who was born in 1961 and considers himself a member of the post-boomer generation, said Americans hungered for “a different kind of politics,” one that moved beyond the tired ideological battles of the 1960s. [….]

Mr. Obama calculates that Americans of all ages are sick of the feuding boomers and ready to turn to the generation that came of age after Vietnam, after the campus culture wars between freaks and straights, and after young people had given up on what überboomer Hillary Rodham Clinton (who made her own announcement on the Web yesterday) called in a 1969 commencement address a search for “a more immediate, ecstatic and penetrating mode of living.”

The Times also quotes from Obama’s book The Audacity of Hope, in which Obama used the self-absorbed baby boomer narrative to attack the Clintons.

In his second book, “The Audacity of Hope,” Mr. Obama is critical of the style and the politics of the 60s, when the psyches of most of his potential rivals for the White House were formed. He writes that the politics of that era were highly personal, burrowing into every interaction between youth and authority and among peers. The battles moved to Washington in the 1990s and endure today, he says

“In the back and forth between Clinton and Gingrich, and in the elections of 2000 and 2004,” he writes, “I sometimes felt as if I were watching the psychodrama of the baby boom generation — a tale rooted in old grudges and revenge plots hatched on a handful of college campuses long ago — played out on the national stage.”

Of course Obama also talked about “the excesses of the ’60s and ’70s” in his interview with the Reno Gazette-Journal before the Nevada primary.

“I don’t want to present myself as some sort of singular figure. I think part of what is different is the times. I do think that, for example, the 1980 election was different. I think Ronald Reagan changed the trajectory of America in a way that Richard Nixon did not and in a way that Bill Clinton did not. He put us on a fundamentally different path because the country was ready for it. They felt like with all the excesses of the 60s and the 70s and government had grown and grown but there wasn’t much sense of accountability in terms of how it was operating. I think he tapped into what people were already feeling. Which is we want clarity, we want optimism, we want a return to that sense of dynamism and entrepreneurship that had been missing.”

Finally, Obama attacked baby boomers in his Inaugural Address.

His harshest language on domestic matters actually seemed directed — not for George W. Bush or specific Republican policies — but more for an entire generation, the baby boomers who have been running this country for the past 16 years (and, of course, that has to include Bill Clinton too). He seemed more interested in identifying the generation that he saw as responsible for the more systemic problems facing the country:

On this day, we gather because we have chosen hope over fear, unity of purpose over conflict and discord.

On this day, we come to proclaim an end to the petty grievances and false promises, the recriminations and worn out dogmas, that for far too long have strangled our politics.

Those words were reminiscent of the “turn the page” language he used effectively against Hillary Clinton in the primaries. This time, though, it was quite clear that he wasn’t singling out the Clintons, but was making a broader, more pointed claim against the excesses of an entire generation of leaders. And, on the financial front, Bill Clinton signed the law that overturned Glass-Steagall, while George W. Bush signed the law that quote-reformed-unquote bankruptcy laws. So, Obama may well be on strong footing there. He’s demontrating an unwillingness to hear excuses from either Democratic or Republican partisans.

Anyone who thinks all of this was or is accidental is delusional. Obama was told all along by his advisers and probably by his Wall Street donors that he would have to be the one to destroy Social Security and Medicare. These two programs are the only large source of taxpayer funds for the wealthy and corporations to steal from us. We’ve known that for a long time, but most Americans probably don’t–many still think Obama is a liberal.

Reportedly Obama will embrace the findings of his Catfood Commission in his upcoming State of the Union Address. It’s going to be a full-out media assault and we’d better figure out a way to combat it. It’s the old divide and conquer tactic that has always worked so well. Those of us in the bottom 90% of incomes had better get together and fight back or we’re dead.

17 Comments on “The Latest Self-Serving Village Narrative: Screw the Baby Boomers.”

  1. Dario says:

    Obama hates the baby boomers and I got the message a long time ago. It’s one of the reasons I will never vote for him.

  2. dakinikat says:

    It’s just one more way Wall Street is trying to fund their casino, their bonuses, and their masters of the universe group think. There’s another narrative up there too. People are talking about how we can’t have the trust fund invested in treasuries. That it’s some form of gross borrowing. Well, if it’s not invested in treasuries what other alternatives are there? Yup, you got it! Wall Street Play money!!! Banks!! All those reasons for the great Depression and the great Recession.

    It’s really clear all these narratives play into the the hands of the uberrich and they’re using populist Bircher style arguments to nab the cash. I really hope people don’t fall for this.

  3. Fannie says:

    I just luv it when we get poked and plucked.

  4. Branjor says:

    I’m beginning to see a really different dynamic than the one I thought would be operational when I was younger. I used to think that the baby boomers would make out quite well due to our sheer numbers – nobody would dare to screw with such a large cohort. Power in numbers. But now I see that that is exactly what is about to happen, if we don’t do something about it.

    • Dario says:

      Yes, the boomers were great for the economy and a great source of money for the government, including the SS fund. My generation suffered the most with the Vietnam War. Many of my generation came back damaged and if one includes the missing, 60,000 didn’t come back. Now that we’re about to exit the work force, we’re garbage.

  5. Fannie says:

    I’m with you, so let’s do it. I’m here with you. It’s just like my dinner last night,
    cost more and got alot less.

    Prime Rib was $25.00……….you had choice of baked potatoes, or garlic mashed potatoes, and the soup was beef and potatoes! I selected the baked potatoe, guess
    what, I looked at it, and yes it was pretty small. The steamed vegetables came,
    one each (less than inch) broccoli, cauliflower, and carrot. I mean I didn’t intend to gorge myself out, but I sure as hell expected to have my pecan pie included in that
    $25 dinner, no it was another 2.99 for desert.

    It makes you want to growl.

  6. janicen says:

    Of course, all of this “Social Security is going to go broke…” stuff is nonsense. Every President in my memory, other than Clinton, has shouted this from the rooftops. One thing I would like to ask the people who insist that the retirement age should be raised is, where the hell do you get a job that you can hang on to, even past age 55? Employers routinely “downsize” older workers out of their jobs in favor of younger, cheaper workers. Most everyone I know would be delighted to work to age 65, but nobody believes it will happen.

  7. RalphB says:

    If we don’t join together to fight this meme, we are all gonna be so screwed. Thanks BB for a great post!

  8. Minkoff Minx says:

    Excellent post BB. I am dreading that State of the Union Address…I know what will be in it and it scares the shit out of me…

  9. Thanks for assembling all this, BB. I have been afraid of what Obama might do ever since I started to be aware of what he thought about the activists of the ’60s and what he thought about Ronald Ray-gun (deliberately seizing an old image). As if I haven’t overpaid my payroll tax burden already. As if the US can’t print money when it wants to, for those it wants to.

  10. Seriously says:

    Obama “considers himself to be part of the post-boomer generation”? Lol Yeah, defining himself out of reality is swell and all, but can’t he put his magical reality-redefining powers to better use? He’s such a phony, it’s all this generational warfare, but hey, while you’re getting your hate on you can pat yourselves on the back for your moral virtue in rising above petty squabbles about justice or whatever those stupid hippies were always on about. Ugh! I also hate the “self-pity” meme. Most boomers have worked for decades and have little to show for it–they’re not allowed to be pissed that things didn’t turn out the way they were supposed to? So ridiculous.

  11. joanelle says:

    They not only “don’t care” Wonk, they make up whatever they want. Just like they did during the primaries and the election.

    This post hit the nail squarely on the head, BB – thanks so much – now what can we actually do about it. Clearly the MSM is still in their pockets, how do we work around that?

  12. Delphyne says:

    Thanks for this, BB – all I can say to these folks is a very loud “fu@k you!” I’m with you on fighting back as I am not one to lay down and die just because someone wants me to do that. Backing a whole lot of us into a corner might not be a good idea as the assumed reaction might be far different from what they expected. The underlying anger that many of us feel may seem impotent to these folks, but I wouldn’t underestimate it nor would I poke it too many times. All they have to do is look back in history – and they won’t because they’re filled with “power” – they’re “the man.”

    I’m reminded of a MMA video someone sent me awhile back showing a very full of himself martial artist dancing around, performing all kinds of acrobatics in an attempt to intimidate his opponent. The opponent just watched the antics of the other and when the fool got close enough, the opponent threw one punch and knocked him out. Fight over. The video is on FB – I couldn’t find it on YouTube – but if I were the PTB, I wouldn’t assume that we baby boomers are intimidated to the point of being helpless. Sometimes, creativity is born under real duress.

  13. dakinikat says:

    Here’s what I call a shot fired across the bow.

    Lindsey Graham: Don’t Allow Debt Ceiling to Be Raised Without Cuts and Means Testing for Social Security

    Graham on Meet the Press today via C&L

  14. NW Luna says:

    The Baby Boomers are not going to destroy Medicare. It’s the “Health” Insurance Company CEOs that will. With Obama’s consent.