Forget The Kids: Democrats Should Worry About the Senior Vote

Posted: Oct 01, 2010 10:27 AM
The President and Vice President are on the road busying themselves with the task of whipping up young voter enthusiasm for Democrats. (Going great, guys!)  They might want to consider shifting their attention to a different generation of voters: Seniors--who are guaranteed to turn out in far greater numbers next month than their much younger fellow citizens.  Karl Rove points out that senior citizens are virulently opposed to Obamacare, as many of them are already losing their existing coverage, including thousands who are being stripped of Medicare Advantage benefits.  (Remember, though, "if you like your plan, you can keep your plan."  The president still says so).

But it's not just healthcare-related issues that have Seniors agitated.  Many fear an additional squeeze on their quality of life: President Obama's scheduled tax hikes on capital gains and dividends, the latter of which constitute a major source of income for retirees.  Sensing an electorally devastating backlash from older Americans, 47 House Democrats wrote a frantic letter to Nancy Pelosi earlier this week pleading with her (and indirectly, the White House) to extend President Bush's lower rates on both income streams:

In the letter to Ms. Pelosi, the 47 Democrats, warned that an increase in the tax rate on dividends would be felt most acutely by retirees living on fixed incomes.

“Raising taxes on capital gains and dividends could discourage individuals and businesses from saving and investing,” they wrote. “We urge you to maintain the current tax rate for both dividend and long-term capital gains taxes.” While Republicans are generally in agreement about continuing the tax breaks for everyone, Democrats have been divided.

Naturally, House and Senate Democratic leadership blithely ignored these concerns.  They've instead chosen not to hold votes on any of these thorny tax questions before the election, hanging many members out to dry, awaiting the wrath of older voters in November. 

Senate Democrats are at least trying to mitigate the damage with Seniors by fear-mongering about Social Security and Medicare.  A friendly reminder to Seniors: Rep. Paul Ryan's Republican "Road Map" to entitlement reform doesn't touch your Social Security or Medicare arrangements at all.