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More on seniors' distaste for government

Seniors are the least likely to say they want more government services in a range of areas, and electorally interested seniors hold distinct views from their less interested counterparts, Dan Balz and Jon Cohen write in a new article. Here are some additional highlights from the Post-Kaiser-Harvard study:

Distaste for government intervention:

Seniors' preference for less government intervention extends across issue areas. Compared with those under 65, seniors are less apt to want additional government intervention on protecting the environment, ensuring access to health care, reducing poverty, setting educational standards and regulating Wall Street financial institutions. Four in 10 seniors, for instance, say they want more government involvement in ensuring access to health care, compared with more than half of all adults, including nearly two in three who are under 30.

Q. Please tell me whether you'd like to see more federal government involvement in ..., less involvement, about the same amount of involvement, or no federal government involvement at all?

Percent saying they want more involvement in that area

                               All   18-29  65+  
Protecting the environment     61     70     48    
Ensuring access to health care 52     63     40  
Promoting values and morality  40     43     41    
   in the society
Reducing poverty               64     75     52      
Setting educational standards  57     71     40   
   for public schools
Regulating Wall Street         47     45     40   
   financial institutions
Fighting terrorism             56     44     62   
Regulating gun ownership       32     34     31

There are a few exceptions, though: older adults are more likely than younger ones to say that Medicare, Social Security and defense spending are important.

Dim view of government and its leaders:

While few Americans give the federal government and its leaders good grades, seniors are particularly negative. They give the federal government a 1.37 (on a four point scale) for its performance. And they give President Obama a 1.9, roughly a C. Both are significantly lower than the grades doled out by adults under 30 and the broader populace.

Widespread pessimism:

Seniors are more likely to say that the nation is on the wrong track and that the federal government has the wrong priorities. Two in three seniors, for example, say things are heading off course, compared with 58 percent of younger adults. Only three in 10 seniors say the federal government is focused on the right things, compared with four in 10 Americans overall and about half of 18-29 year olds.

Decision 2010:

Seniors display much more interest in the 2010 contest than their younger counterparts. First, a full 91 percent of seniors say they are registered to vote at their present address, compared with 77 percent of other adults. Thirty-nine percent of seniors are more interested in the upcoming election than they were in 2008, compared with 27 percent of adults 18-64. Finally, 34 percent of seniors say they are at least somewhat likely to contribute money to a political candidate or party between now and Nov. 2, compared with 26 percent of younger adults.

Country:

Despite their skepticism of government programs and the nation's direction, more seniors call it "our" government rather than "the" government. The split for seniors is 56-42 in favor of "our" government, while for all adults it is reversed, 55-45 in favor of "the" government.

Fully 86 percent of adults 65 and older say the U.S. has the best system of government in the world, compared with 77 percent overall. Thirty three percent of adults under 30 disagree with that statement. Only one in four seniors say violent action against the government is at times justified, compared with three in 10 overall and four in 10 adults under 30.

Q. Please tell me how important you think ... is.

Percent saying the program is very important

                     All   18-64  65+  
Medicare             74     72     82    
Social Security      77     74     89    
Defense spending     56     55     62    

Q. If you were to grade the overall performance of the federal government, what grade would you give?

          ---- A/B ----   ---- C/D ----          No
          NET   A    B    NET    C    D    F   opinion 
All       25    3    21    55   32   24    19     1
18-64     35    3    32    58   40   18     6     *
Seniors   19    5    14    48   25   24    31     2

Q. If you were to grade the overall performance of Barack Obama as president, what grade would you give?

          ---- A/B ----   ---- C/D ----          No
          NET   A    B    NET    C    D    F   opinion 
All       48    17   30   33    20   13    18    1   
18-29     61    17   44   29    22    7     7    3
Seniors   38    17   21   36    20   17    24    1

By Kyle Dropp  | October 13, 2010; 3:17 PM ET
Categories:  Guns, Health care, Polls, Post Polls  | Tags:  2010, federal government, midterms, obama, role of government, seniors, young adults  
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Comments

All of you, get off my lawn, now.

Posted by: COWENS99 | October 13, 2010 6:54 PM | Report abuse

Most seniors have a long history of paying payroll taxes and into pension funds, in anticipation of government reciprocation after retirement, so now that they have reached the end of their earning years, they are more vulnerable to government fickleness than the younger set.

Retirees have more reason than anyone to feel betrayed, because they have paid in more valuable dollars, to receive less valuable money now.

The seniors have also lived long enough to see the track record of promises betrayed, so they are more skeptical. They also come from a tradition that respected self-reliance, self-sufficiency, and freedom more than the younger set, who have known nothing except our de facto socialism (meaning "stealing from the many to give to the few")which is misrepresented as "capitalism" and "democracy."

Americans are in economic and regulatory slavery through a tax structure so comprehensive and sneaky that they don't even realize the multitudinious ways they are taxed. If the thieves in Washington and on Wall Street really want to stimulate employment and the economy, they will eliminate the Fed, the income tax and payroll taxes.

However, these are the vampires' life blood, so don't expect them to release their grip voluntarily.

Posted by: kcottomd | October 14, 2010 7:31 AM | Report abuse

We Seniors are skeptical of the motives of those who are supposed to represent our best interests. We have watched as non-profit Health Insurance Corporations became For Profit and turned into massive machines that spit out the sick in preference for profits. We watched inter-state banking deregulated, which allowed large banks to buy up small local banks across state lines, thus creating the "Too Big To Fail" Banks. We have watched as Family Farms were destroyed, while huge Corporation owned Farming operations took over the production of food. We have watched as regulations governing the processing of meats and vegetables have not been enforced due to the political influence of large Corporations. We have watched as the Congress has turned from a Body that runs America, into a Body that is continually running for Office instead of governing.
We have watched as the most obvious solutions to Medicare debt, tying the prices that Big Pharma can charge for drugs, to the cost of living, have been ignored due to Corporate pressures. Health care for all citizens has been forfeited so that the large Health Insurance Corporations can continue to rape the American public.
We are not cynical.We are just very Aware that The United States of America is no longer governed by We the People, or For We the People.
Oh Yes, I worked for and voted for our President, and since have watched him beat his head on a brick wall of Corporate Control.

Posted by: pooka47401 | October 14, 2010 11:50 AM | Report abuse

How will voters react to the Palin inspired Tea Party plan to end Medicaid and Social Security within one year of power?

Posted by: walker1 | October 17, 2010 11:50 AM | Report abuse

Approaching the senior years myself, I've known many older Americans. It is typical of American elders to perceive the past as better, fear strangers and feel more vulnerable. They are done raising children and more interested in their own safety. A policy of home care and guaranteed hospice care for aged Americans would be wonderful.

Posted by: rjbunny | October 18, 2010 2:28 PM | Report abuse

WHAT REALLY AMAZE ME IS,WHEN THERE ARE CRIES THAT YOU WANT YOUR COUNTRY BACK, THAT GOVERMENT IS TOO BIG AND SPEND TO MUCH; BUT WHEN THERE WAS THE OIL DISASTER YOU WERE SCREAMING THAT THE GOVERMENT WAS SLOW IN MOVING EVEN THOUGH THEY WERE ON THE JOB WITHIN 2DAYS; AND TALK ABOUT BIG GOVERMENT SPENDING BUT YOUR WONT LET GO OF YOUR SOC.SEC CHECK OR MEDICARE,OR OTHER SENIOR PROGRAMS,THEN YOU WANT GOVERMENT INVOLVEMET... YOU CANT HAVE IT BOTH WAYS !! BY THE WAY, HOW MANY OF YOU SENT BACK YOUR CHECKS FOR 250.00 WHEN THEY CAME AND TOLD THE GOVERMENT ' YOU ARE SPENDING TOO MUCH '??? NOT A ONE OF YOU AND NEITHER DID I!! I NEEDED THAT JUST IN THE NICK OF TIME... I WANT MY GOVERMENT TO WORK FOR ME NOT AGAINST ME IN MY OLDER YEARS.I WORKED AND HELPED TO LIFT UP AMERICA AND NOW WHEN I NEED IT, I WANT IT AVAILABLE TO ME. SO IF YOU DONT NEED IT, BY ALL MEANS SEND IT ALL BACK,STOP YOUR SOC.SEC.CKS AND MEDICARE AND MAYBE I CAN GET MORE HELP. THE GOVERMENT WILL LOVE YOU FOR IT!!! MAYBE YOUR MORGAGES ARE SECURE,YOUR HEALTH PLANS ADAQUATE,YOUR RETIRMENT FUND SAFE,AND YOU GOT YOUR EDUCATION ON G.I.BILLS AND FREDERAL GRANTS(back in the day) BUT THERE ARE MILLIONS WHO DON'T HAVE IT AS GOOD AS YOU DO.DON'T MEAN THEY DID'T WORK OR WAS LAZY OR WAS LOOKING FOR A HAND-OUT,LETS FACE IT NOT ALL WAS EQUALLY PRIVILAGED ((AND THATS WHY I AM A DEMOCRATE..BY THE PEOPLE(US) AND FOR THE PEOPLE(US)))SO THAT OUR NATION CAN BE STRONG,HEALTHY AND FOR GOD SAKES A LOVING AND CARING PEOPLE.

Posted by: pvteyeellis | October 18, 2010 2:28 PM | Report abuse

... For unto whomever much is given,of him shall be reguired: and to whom men have committed much, of him they will ask more.Luke 12:48... Now that sounds like me , you, and our goverment.

Posted by: pvteyeellis | October 18, 2010 3:19 PM | Report abuse

Just want to post a couple of questions. Do you want your social security invested in the stock market? Are you satisfied with Medicare the way it is or do you want the kookicans to ADJUST it? Am neither party member but don't think after watching debates want Republicans messing with either. Am a senior citizen that is not happy with a lot of things but would not be thrilled if either party touched the above.

Posted by: rstaicoff | October 18, 2010 3:28 PM | Report abuse

rstaicoff.... amen! I want my social security safeguard and ready each and every month. I can manage what little I get,thank you very much!

Posted by: pvteyeellis | October 18, 2010 4:19 PM | Report abuse

I really get tired of hearing people complain about government. And, it disgusts me that so many are willing to accuse politicians of crooked behavior and stealing from the treasury. In matters of work and money, humans across strata have a way of either playing by the rules or gaming the system. There is always someone who wants to grab,steal more than their fair share.
As a senior, who lost my job and dependent on my SS, I find it disgusting that Seniors are willing to sacrifice future generations access to SS because of fear and misinformation.
Government is needed to bulwark the so called "free market" unique to the US. We've seen what the absence of governance has done to our country, our families and especially our children. The Bushies politicized and corrupted every branch of the federal govt. They misused their powers to enrich the few and impoverish the many. They weakened the FDA, EPA, FCC, Dept of Interior, Homeland Security and devastated FEMA. They de-regulated Wall street,permitting the systematic robbery of the american people and sent our soldiers to war improperly provisioned. The GOP has become the" Global Opportunity Partnership "made up of the republican party, the US Chamber of Commerce and NEWS Corp which promotes international mercantilism over american businesses; values wealth over work and is hostile toward the middle class. These are opportunists, corporatists who demonize american workers to justify their unjustifiable greed and arrogance.
Our problem is that the Bushies didn't govern. They used and abused their power to the detriment of the american people. Obama has brought back responsible GOVERNANCE and the GOP is really scared that the american people might catch on and everyone be required to pay their fair share in restoring the nation. Government is necessary to protect the common good: to referee the flow of money, balance the power between the good of the people according to the constitution and "free market" business practices which can enrich and corrupt a society. Seniors need to wise up and grow up. The GOP fiscal policies are "satanic market rituals" paying homage to wealth and power. Their policies support tyrany, and have no place in a civilized society guided by the principles of equality and justice for all.

Posted by: CarmanK | October 20, 2010 3:21 AM | Report abuse

My wife is a foreign born US citizen.She is from a so called 3rd world country.Her brother retired at 60 with almost a full salary,which has a retirement plan similar to what president Bush's plan was.I am on SS and with what I paid in from age 15 to 70 I would be a lot better off today even with the market crash if we would have had that type of plan.
Those who blame the problems on Bush are wrong.The whole melt down started by lib dem policies saying every one deserved a home whether they could afford it or not.
My family has always bought less then we could afford and it burns Me up that now we have to bail out those with no responsibility.
Yes I would love to trade what we have today for Bush even though I didn't always agree with Him.He had the USA's interest at heart.

Posted by: rfholmes6 | October 20, 2010 2:40 PM | Report abuse

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