Lately parts of the press have been helping spread the idea that the young and the old in America are locked in furious, silent battle over resources. And that the old people—given over-generous Social Security and Medicare benefits—are winning this struggle, to the detriment of the nation.

Is this true? Trudy Lieberman, a longtime contributing editor to CJR who covers healthcare and social safety net issues for us, had a lot of questions about it in a post she wrote here last week. The press “has been presenting a one-sided picture of the Social Security situation, quite possibly to the detriment of young and the old alike,” she wrote. “From other perspectives, the two generations are not in opposition at all, but natural allies, both with common interests in a strong Social Security system.”

Trudy expanded on her piece this week in a podcast interview with Carey Goldberg, a veteran healthcare reporter for public radio WBUR, 90.9 in Boston, on its CommonHealth blog.

The myth of the Greedy Geezer, Trudy tells Goldberg, may be no more than a convenient rationale for cutting benefits. More than 40 million people in America are above 65 and, she argues, most of them are just getting by. Many are using up their assets far faster than they thought they would. Worse, she points out, the myth cuts off discussion of other possible solutions to what fiscal problems Social Security and Medicare do have.

Trudy bolsters her analysis with statistics and policy history, and you can hear it here.


Follow @USProjectCJR for more posts from this author and the rest of the United States Project team. And follow Trudy Lieberman @Trudy_Lieberman.

 

Mike Hoyt was CJR's executive editor from 2001 to 2013, teaches at Columbia's Journalism School and is the editor of The Big Roundtable, a startup that is a home for narrative writing.