Ah, the older voter. Once every four years, around the time we elect a new president, we codgers get a little respect.
People realize that we actually vote in large numbers. Other times we are seen mainly as customers for gutter guards and Medicare Advantage plans — I see you, Joe Namath.
We seniors have been around long enough to realize that our votes matter on pocketbook issues such as Social Security, taxes and health care.
Maybe it's the ringing in our ears from old age, but we also get better at tuning out the noise that seems to drive so much of modern media coverage of presidential elections. We don't — or can't — hear all those cable news "bombshells." Please.
As a political moderate — and the person who balances the checkbook at our house — I always look at how an election will affect our household.
So let's pretend I was president for a day. What would I push for? As a centrist, I'm allowed to borrow ideas from both major parties.
*Expand Medicare. This comes from the Democrats, who are pushing to make people eligible for Medicare at age 60. I think a better age would be 62, when most workers first become eligible for (reduced) Social Security retirement benefits.
Would it cost more? Sure. But I have a plan. In order to qualify, seniors would have to have a valid living will stipulating what kind of end-of-life care they want — I think many would say that they do not want to be kept on life support if they are determined to be permanently unconscious. Hopefully, cost savings from these universal living wills — along with small adjustments to the Medicare tax and modest premiums for those under 65 — would pay for the Medicare expansion.
* Lower drug costs. Our Republican president has been very vocal on this front, and for good reason. Americans account for about half the world's $1 trillion a year prescription drug spending, but we are only about 5% of the world's population, according to the Rand Corp. We would not stand for paying more for TVs or automobiles, so why do we settle for sky-high drug prices?
* Promote job sharing. I have this theory that Boomers (like me) and Zoomers (Gen Zers, like my kids) would both benefit if America became more proficient at job sharing. My plan would be called the 20/20 plan, and it involves companies setting aside some full-time positions for two-person teams, each member working 20 hours a week.
Tax breaks could be written to encourage businesses to hire Boomer/Zoomer pairs. Thus, a 62-year-old Boomer with Social Security and access to Medicare would be able to subsist with a part-time job to supplement their retirement savings. Meanwhile, young workers (including college students) would benefit from well-paying, part-time jobs to get a foothold in the work world. The senior worker would mentor the junior worker on life kills, and the younger worker would help the older worker keep up with changes in technology.
* Privatize a portion of Social Security. By that, I mean, funnel a portion of everyone's Social Security taxes into an individualized investment fund, designed like the target-date funds many of us use in 401(k) and IRA accounts. This is an old GOP proposal, and it makes sense for everyone to have some skin in the financial markets to boost long-term returns and to give everyone a stake in the health of the overall economy.
* At the same time, raise the minimum wage. I think $12 sounds about right, but I would also link the minimum wage to inflation and make annual cost-of-living adjustments. Set it, and forget it.
* End the Senate filibuster, but don't mess with the nine-member Supreme Court. If one party wins the presidency and both houses of Congress, they deserve a chance to govern. If they overreach, things will self-adjust at the next election cycle. We need more democracy, not less. At the same time, the Supreme Court should stay intact. Partisan shifts in the court majority have a way of evening out over time.
Almost none of this will happen, of course, because the middle ground requires compromise, and there's precious little of that in politics these days.
But we can always hope.
Email Mark Kennedy at firstname.lastname@example.org.