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Esquire's War on Everyone Over 65

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Written by CEPR   
Tuesday, 03 April 2012 11:00

We don't make this stuff up. Esquire's recent article on "The War Against Youth" is shocking, but not for the reason you'd expect after reading that headline. It starts out with this statement: "The year Obama took office, older Americans made almost forty-seven times as much as the younger generation." As Dean Baker notes on Beat the Press, that would be wealth, not income. Wealth = total assets - liabilities. Or as Dean says:

This means that if we add up the home equity of the typical household over age 65, their 401(k) and all other savings, the value of their car and any other possessions they might have, it comes to just over $170,000. This is a bit more than the price of the median home.

If you used that wealth to pay off your mortgage, you would end up with very little leftover and dependent on Social Security benefits, which average a bit more than $1,200 a month. But Esquire has problems with that, too. According to the article, Social Security is a "boondoggle" that is "weighted heavily in favor of the older population." Esquire would also like us to think that Social Security benefits are going to "run out in 2036." Why? Maybe you remember the Esquire Commission to Balance the Federal Budget. Backed by the Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget, which includes Erskine Bowles and Pete Peterson on its board, it included recommendations like raising the retirement age to 70 and using the Chained Consumer Price Index for All Urban Consumers (CPI-U) to calculate cost-of-living adjustments. Dean Baker and David Rosnick have written about those very proposals here (and for more, check out our Social Security issues page). Spoiler alert: They're going to hurt people more than help.

Dean sums up the article pretty well:

"[It] is a shameful effort to transform the realities of class war, where the wealthy have been rigging the rules to secure themselves most of the gains from economic growth, into a generational issue. The combination of ignorance and dishonesty in this piece is truly extraordinary.

Indeed.

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