Thus when you look at Jeb Hensarling’s proposal for drastic cuts in Social Security benefits or Paul Ryan’s plan to pair drastic Social Security cuts with drastic Medicare cuts you’ll see that there’s a trick—none of it applies to anyone who’s 55 or older today. The basic idea is to take the GOP old white people base and insulate them from cuts. The under 55 crowd will still have to pay the taxes to finance their benefits, but we ourselves won’t get the benefits.
As you’ll recall from the health reform debate, somewhat paradoxically it’s the current beneficiaries of single-payer government-provided health insurance who evince the most opposition to universal health care. Basically, they’ve got theirs and don’t care about extending the benefits of universal health care to younger people. Ryan and Hensarling are proposing to institutionalize this version of the intergenerational bargain—culturally conservative oldsters still get paid, but the welfare state they enjoy and support will be phased out for Generations X and Y.
Based on my observation, 55+ seems to be the sweet spot of the teabagger demo.