President Biden’s Shiny Objects – Women’s eNews


The silver lining in the generation gap confronting the nation’s oldest president ever may be, well, silver. 

President Joe Biden’s  struggles with younger voters have drawn enormous media attention. But there’s been much less focus on the 81-year-old’s relative strength among his contemporaries. While Biden’s support among young voters in polls now typically runs well below his vote share with them in 2020, multiple surveys show him holding, or even expanding, his backing among seniors. 

His state of the union address, praised by US critics as energetic and fiery, has already dissipated some of the gloom of democrats. But the most recent polls show Trump at around 36 percent and Biden at about 33 percent, with the rest of the voters looking for somebody else.  

However,  Biden  has  finalized an array of concrete economic benefits for seniors, with more moving toward implementation. A date that Democrats are already circling on the election calendar is September 1, 2024. That’s when the administration is scheduled to announce the results of the first-ever negotiations between Medicare and large pharmaceutical companies to lower drug prices. The outcome could be substantial savings for seniors on 10 drugs taken by millions of Medicare recipients – announced only a little over two months before Election Day. And that’s just one component of an interlocked agenda on controlling drug and health care costs that could provide Biden a powerful calling card with older voters as it snaps into effect in the months ahead. 

“Even though the vast majority of these benefits haven’t kicked in yet, I think people are very hopeful,” said Nancy LeaMond, executive vice president and chief advocacy and engagement officer for AARP, the giant lobby for seniors. “We thought there would be a lot of complaints about why can’t it be sooner. But what I’ve found as I talk to seniors is they may say I wish it was in effect today, but they also say at least it’s coming down the road. We never thought we’d see Big Pharma have to cut its prices.”

Older Women may especially benefit. The medical journal JAMA Internal Medicine shows that women in the United States now live an average of 5.8 years longer than men, marking the biggest gap between men and women since 1996.

  A better showing with seniors alone is unlikely to save Biden if he can’t regain at least some of the ground polls show that he’s lost with young people since 2020. But Biden’s standing among older voters has been a relative strength for him since that 2020 campaign. 

 Little attention has been paid to this fact by the media. Nearly every conversation about President Biden mentions his age, usually in an unflattering way. Having heard that he is 81,  many people conclude they know a great deal about him. They “know” that he is frail, they “know”  that he and other older Americans are prone to make mistakes and get confused and they “know” elders tend not to be engaged in politics, or even in voting. 

But this “knowledge” is rooted in ageism. “The tendency is to lump everybody together as if their experiences are the same, when we know they’re not.” says Katherine Ramos, PhD, an assistant professor of psychiatry and behavioral sciences at Duke University.  

 A 2023 Pew Center report suggests that much of what most Americans think they “know” about older people is out-dated and wrong.  

  In the past 15 years, there has been a consistent increase in the percentage of older workers employed full time, rather than part-time, and they vote. The March 24 AARP Bulletin reports that in the 2020 presidential election, citizens  65 to 74  voted at the rate of 76 percent, while those 18 to 24 only voted at the rate of 51 percent.

And examples of 80-somethings still active come readily to mind: Primatologist Jane Goodall, Representative Nancy Pelosi, and senators Bernie Sanders, Chuck Grassley , and Ben Cardin. Also, actors  Robert Redford, Jane Fonda, and Star Trek’s William Shatner, who traveled into space in a rocket in 2021,  Then there are Journalist Bob Woodward, (still turning out best sellers), artist Frank Stella, MIT academic Noam Chomsky, and Hedge Fund Manager George Soros, among others.   

Older Americans are hardly immune to all the crosswinds that have battered Biden’s standing. But they have proven somewhat more resistant to those trends than younger voters.  Nancy LeaMond of AARP noted that while inflation obviously pinches seniors living on fixed incomes, they are benefiting from a significant Social Security cost-of-living increase and higher interest rates on savings. “The way we look at it is, seniors seem to feel, in general, more comfortable economically than other groups,” she said. 

Biden’s biggest asset with seniors may be that he has a much longer list of policies he can point to that directly benefit them financially than he has for any other age group. A number of his plans are already in place. The administration last January established a $35 monthly cap on insulin payments for people on Medicare, which it projects will save some 1.5 million Medicare recipients an average of $500 annually; the administration has also already eliminated co-payments for Medicare recipients for all vaccines – a change that has benefited 4 million seniors annually. 

Biden is the oldest person to serve as president. And there’s debate about whether attacks on him from some Republicans — recall Trump’s “Sleepy Joe” nickname during the last campaign — backfire among voters at or fast approaching the same age. 

As a participant in a 2022 AARP – National Geographic Second Half of Life study explained it, “The person you see in the mirror is far different from the type of person younger generations might think you are.” 

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