Grey Power and Rational Self Interest

Lifted from Robert Waldmann‘s Stochastic Thoughts.

Dan here. NDD’s post on voter turnout for older voters being an economic question in general about interest rates and cola rates, Robert points to less “rational” economic behavior. Of course there is quixotic voting such as the lady in Kentucky who was for the KY health exchange and against the socialism of Obamacare. Perceptions matter. But then…

Grey Power and Rational Self Interest

The extraordinarily smart and well informed Richard Mayhew presents amazing data on voter turnout by age in presidential elections and mid terms. He also attempts to make sense of yesterday’s vote. I think this attempt fails.

He concludes “we have an off-cycle electorate that assumes that they’ll be dead in 15 years, so let the good times roll.”

I comment.

The argument makes sense, but the votes of US adults over 60 don’t. The Republican policy stance (except during campaigns) is the opposite of “let the good times role”. They fight for reduced deficits and, in particular, demand entitlement reform.

In particular, Arkansans over 60 voted for Tom Cotton who voted to raise the Medicare eligibility age to 70. This is a “death bet” only if to death they say “you betcha”.

Cotton’s vote is on a roll call and the Republican Study Group budget is public, so I think it is OK to link to a partisan source

“Cotton Was the Only Member Of The Arkansas Delegation To Vote for Republican Study Committee Budget That Transformed Medicare Into Voucher System, Raised the Eligibility Age For Medicare To 70 And Cut Social Security Benefits.”

One can not use rational self interest to explain why people aged over 60 vote for Republicans who demand that Democrats accept entitlement reform and then denounce the Democrats for accepting some of the Republican demands.