By Bill Maher
I've been getting so much blowback for the editorial we did a couple weeks ago about seniors taking a disproportionate share of our federal budget, I feel like I butted in line at the early bird buffet.
A representative sample comes from The Los Angeles Times' Michael Hiltzik, a good columnist I often agree with. He thinks I make too much of the fact that the federal government spends only $3,822 per child annually vs. $25,455 for seniors, noting "almost all the government dollars spent on children come from state and local governments." Yeah, that's the problem. Investing in our future should be a national priority, not just a local one.
Moreover, even after you combine all local/state/federal spending, America spends $26,355 per senior and $11,822 per child, according to The Urban Institute. I can fathom advocating for say, a 1-to-1 ratio, but arguing it's perfectly fine for oldsters to get more than two slices of the pie for every slice youngsters get?
Mr. Hiltzik also tries to advance another familiar argument: "Most spending on seniors is through Social Security and Medicare, for which most seniors paid for during their working lives." True for Social Security (in fact, they put in slightly more than they take out). Not true for Medicare. Very, very not true. PolitiFact points out that the average wage-earning couple pays $122,000 in Medicare taxes, but receives $387,000 in benefits.
The AARP has a lot of people out there defending their interests, but there are no three-year-old columnists for the LA Times to defend theirs. So I guess I have to. Which is weird, because I don't even like kids.