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Evidence suggests cutting Medicare will hurt kids

Written by Diane Archer
Benefits to kids tend to go hand in hand with benefits to older adults.  And, evidence suggests that cutting Medicare will hurt kids. If you analyze the data, countries that spend a greater share of their income benefiting older adults, also spend a greater share of their income benefiting kids, report Shawn Fremstad and Dean Baker, Center for Economic Policy and Research.  The evidence further suggests that cutting Medicare will not mean more money for kids. Congress has never made financial trade-offs between older adults and kids.
  • Fact: Jonathan Bradshaw and Emese Mayhew report that “Nations make choices about the level of resources they commit to children and the elderly, and the countries that are most generous to children also tend to be most generous to the elderly.”
  • Fact: The U.S., for the most part, spends less than other OECD countries on retirement benefits. Indeed, they are relatively moderate, says Fremstad, relying on data from Jonathan Bradshaw and Emese Mayhew.
  • Fact: There is no evident tradeoff between government benefits to kids and benefits to older adults, according to sociologist David Brady. In Rich Democracies, Poor People: How Politics Explains Poverty, Brady looks at poverty data in 18 OECD countries to show that in countries with high poverty rates among elderly, there are high poverty rates among kids and vice versa.
  • Fact: As the U.S. has created programs for older adults, such as Medicare, we have also created programs for the young, such as Head Start. And, funding has increased at the national, state and local levels for both older Americans and the young, according to Baker.

Fremstad and Baker believe that the economic security of kids in America, both today and in the future, depends in good part on their parents’ and grandparents’ economic security, because families take care of one another across the generations.  If we give their parents and grandparents greater security, working-class kids will be better off as well.

To learn more about how countries that spend more on seniors also spend more on children from the Center for Economic and Policy Rights (CEPR), click here.  CEPR also has this post, explaining that our parents are not stealing from our kids.  And, yet another showing the fallacy of the argument that spending on older adults in any takes money from kids.


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