However, Democrats can learn a lot from the elderly’s declining support for redistribution. As AKW note, it’s a bit strange that the elderly have become less supportive of government health insurance. “One might ask how,” they write, “by the end of our sample period, seniors can be less supportive of the idea that government cover medical bills given that they, uniquely, are categorically entitled this coverage.” There's a simple explanation: Seniors don’t think the government helps them pay for health insurance. A recent Economist/YouGov poll found that 93 percent of Americans over the age of 65 said they don’t receive a government subsidy to pay for health insurance. (Nearly all seniors receive a subsidy via Medicare.)This throws a small wrench in AKW’s theory. How can seniors think that further redistribution is a threat to them if they don’t think they receive a government subsidy for health insurance? Yet, the fall in support for government health insurance indeed did explain their declining support for redistribution. I think that their theory needs a small tweak then. Seniors don’t feel threatened by further redistribution but they find it unfair. I’m not receiving government help for my insurance, they might (wrongly) say, so the poor shouldn’t receive help either. This would also explain why seniors are so opposed to Obamacare.
-- generated quite a number of "favorites" and retweets.
But I really don't understand why anyone is surprised. Because this indestructible delusion about government spending is exactly what Matt Taibbi found at the beating heart of the Tea Party mob (Ed. note: There. Is. Still. No. Tea. Party.) five years ago when he decided to eschew the generally accepted Beltway method of developing opinions about teabaggers (jog around mall in D.C., run into a teabagger rally by accident, chat with a few of them for a few minutes, develop a Grand Theory of Who These Noble Patriots Are and What It All Means, disseminate your fuckstick-stupid Grand Theory via the New York Times and Meet the Press) and instead actually go interview them in-depth on their own turf:
It's taken three trips to Kentucky, but I'm finally getting my Tea Party epiphany exactly where you'd expect: at a Sarah Palin rally.
And to no Liberal's surprise -- especially certain despised Liberal bloggers who had been calling bullshit on the entire "I'm an Independent"/teabagger scam from jump -- Mr. Taibbi found exactly what you would expect:
...Scanning the thousands of hopped-up faces in the crowd, I am immediately struck by two things. One is that there isn't a single black person here. The other is the truly awesome quantity of medical hardware: Seemingly every third person in the place is sucking oxygen from a tank or propping their giant atrophied glutes on motorized wheelchair-scooters. As Palin launches into her Ronald Reagan impression — "Government's not the solution! Government's the problem!" — the person sitting next to me leans over and explains."The scooters are because of Medicare," he whispers helpfully. "They have these commercials down here: 'You won't even have to pay for your scooter! Medicare will pay!' Practically everyone in Kentucky has one."A hall full of elderly white people in Medicare-paid scooters, railing against government spending and imagining themselves revolutionaries as they cheer on the vice-presidential puppet hand-picked by the GOP establishment. If there exists a better snapshot of everything the Tea Party represents, I can't imagine it....
"I'm anti-spending and anti-government," crows David, as scooter-bound Janice looks on. "The welfare state is out of control.""OK," I say. "And what do you do for a living?""Me?" he says proudly. "Oh, I'm a property appraiser. Have been my whole life."I frown. "Are either of you on Medicare?"Silence: Then Janice, a nice enough woman, it seems, slowly raises her hand, offering a faint smile, as if to say, You got me!"Let me get this straight," I say to David. "You've been picking up a check from the government for decades, as a tax assessor, and your wife is on Medicare. How can you complain about the welfare state?""Well," he says, "there's a lot of people on welfare who don't deserve it. Too many people are living off the government.""But," I protest, "you live off the government. And have been your whole life!""Yeah," he says, "but I don't make very much." Vast forests have already been sacrificed to the public debate about the Tea Party: what it is, what it means, where it's going. But after lengthy study of the phenomenon, I've concluded that the whole miserable narrative boils down to one stark fact: They're full of shit. All of them. At the voter level, the Tea Party is a movement that purports to be furious about government spending — only the reality is that the vast majority of its members are former Bush supporters who yawned through two terms of record deficits and spent the past two electoral cycles frothing not about spending but about John Kerry's medals and Barack Obama's Sixties associations. The average Tea Partier is sincerely against government spending — with the exception of the money spent on them. In fact, their lack of embarrassment when it comes to collecting government largesse is key to understanding what this movement is all about...
And you know what? I'm just gonna go with moar Taibbi. Because he's a good writer, because I am very tired, and because, sadly, this ridiculous, cancerous scam -- which everyone running the country god damn well knows is a ridiculous and cancerous fraud -- still remains firmly tamped down below the radar and off your teevee because... Benghaaaaazi and Hillarymails and Birth Certificates and Amnesty! and generally appeasing and flattering the Pig People is what pays everybody's mortgage and bar tab.
...The individuals in the Tea Party may come from very different walks of life, but most of them have a few things in common. After nearly a year of talking with Tea Party members from Nevada to New Jersey, I can count on one hand the key elements I expect to hear in nearly every interview. One: Every single one of them was that exceptional Republican who did protest the spending in the Bush years, and not one of them is the hypocrite who only took to the streets when a black Democratic president launched an emergency stimulus program. ("Not me — I was protesting!" is a common exclamation.) Two: Each and every one of them is the only person in America who has ever read the Constitution or watched Schoolhouse Rock. (Here they have guidance from Armey, who explains that the problem with "people who do not cherish America the way we do" is that "they did not read the Federalist Papers.") Three: They are all furious at the implication that race is a factor in their political views — despite the fact that they blame the financial crisis on poor black homeowners, spend months on end engrossed by reports about how the New Black Panthers want to kill "cracker babies," support politicians who think the Civil Rights Act of 1964 was an overreach of government power, tried to enact South African-style immigration laws in Arizona and obsess over Charlie Rangel, ACORN and Barack Obama's birth certificate. Four: In fact, some of their best friends are black! (Reporters in Kentucky invented a game called "White Male Liberty Patriot Bingo," checking off a box every time a Tea Partier mentions a black friend.) And five: Everyone who disagrees with them is a radical leftist who hates America.It would be inaccurate to say the Tea Partiers are racists. What they are, in truth, are narcissists. They're completely blind to how offensive the very nature of their rhetoric is to the rest of the country. I'm an ordinary middle-aged guy who pays taxes and lives in the suburbs with his wife and dog — and I'm a radical communist? I don't love my country? I'm a redcoat? Fuck you! These are the kinds of thoughts that go through your head as you listen to Tea Partiers expound at awesome length upon their cultural victimhood, surrounded as they are by America-haters like you and me or, in the case of foreign-born president Barack Obama, people who are literally not Americans in the way they are.It's not like the Tea Partiers hate black people. It's just that they're shockingly willing to believe the appalling horseshit fantasy about how white people in the age of Obama are some kind of oppressed minority. That may not be racism, but it is incredibly, earth-shatteringly stupid...
There is no surprise left in me for this shit.
And we no longer have the luxury of pretending that "looking with alarm" at what the Stupids and the Bigots did today is sufficient to meet this crisis.