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October 2016

Parsing the Presidential Positions and Politics on Senior Issues

Washington Watch


With the nation sharply focusing on the November 8 presidential election, the choice between Republican candidate Donald J. Trump and Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton has been all about personalities, not about policy differences. Facts have taken a back seat to flamboyance.


To many, the election choice seems to be between an ethically-challenged, calculating lawyer/politician versus a drunk-uncle-style egomaniac. No surprise then, that both Trump and Clinton have unfavorable ratings above 50 percent in most polls, leaving many voters to hold their nose and choose – in their words – between a crook versus a crazy.


Fair descriptions or not, these are the Democratic and Republican presidential nominees. The actual choice facing voters are two candidates with sharply different views of the world. Where they have articulated a clear policy, like on issues involving immigration, ISIS and the economy, the differences are often stark. But little has been spoken about key issues with special importance to seniors.


So let’s take a look at issues like Social Security (SS), Medicare, Alzheimer’s disease, drug prices and Obamacare, and look at where the candidates have taken positions on the campaign trail. Hillary Clinton has spelled out detailed position statements on her website and in speeches, while Donald Trump has articulated more generalized positions, largely devoid of detail. Third-party candidates Jill Stein of the Green Party and Gary Johnson of the Libertarian Party have also taken strong positions on key seniors’ issues.


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My Mother Was a Teetotaler (Almost)


I received a lot of positive response from my recent “Older Than Dirt” column. I qualified for this “honor” by remembering things like telephone party lines, Studebakers and candy cigarettes. I also remember cigarette machines in restaurants. People would put in quarters and pull the knob below their favorite brand. Then they would return to their booth and light up right there inside the joint.


My how things have changed. Today you have to smoke outside, unless you’re on a “tobacco free” hospital campus, where you can’t smoke at all; or at Starbucks, where you can’t smoke within 25 feet of the front door. You can sit outside Starbucks and breathe diesel fumes from passing 18-wheelers and Volkswagens in the drive-through lane, but you can’t smoke a cigarette. A bit odd, if you ask me.


But it’s not the strangest law in the land. If you live in North Carolina, like me, you can’t buy beer or wine on Sunday until noon, when church services are over.


What difference does it make?


When was the last time you saw someone drinking beer in church? And forget buying the hard stuff on Sunday in the Tar Heel State. State-owned ABC stores are closed on Sunday. Seems a bit pompous in my opinion. People who drink are going to drink, regardless of state laws. And people who gamble are going to gamble, even before noon on Sunday. That’s right. In my state you can buy N.C. Lottery scratch-off tickets anytime you’d like, even on your way to Sunday School. The State condones gambling on Sunday, but won’t sell you a fifth of Jack Daniels on the Sabbath. How hypocritical is that?


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