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Retirement money fears now grip a record majority of working Americans

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Great news for America's psychiatrists, attorneys and scam artists preying on the elderly:

Now, in addition to soaring gas prices, college tuitions, inflation, home values sinking beneath mortgages, layoffs of older workers, unfinanced federal debts, increasing taxes and stubbornly high unemployment, deadlocked government, healthcare cost savings tan elderly American politicianhat don't materialize and whimsical wars in meaningless places abroad, a majority of Americans now believe they won't have enough money to live comfortably in retirement.

If there is such a thing by the time they get there. If they get there.

A new Gallup Poll out this morning finds a record 53% of Americans who aren't retired figure by the time they reach their so-called golden years they won't be able to afford it.

That percentage is up about 20 points since 2002.

This isn't just some hypothetical political discussion point.

Polls and interviews show an almost palpable sense of unease across the country these days as one-time givens -- a family's home is its largest and safest investment, for instance -- turn to mush in a new era of perpetual fiscal and partisan political uncertainty.

On the right hand, this could feed Republicans' hopes to claim the mantle of change to believe in come 2012 when, among other challenges, Democrats must defend 23 of the 33 scheduled Senate contests. Initial congressional recess reports from the homefront indicate some Republicans are encountering resistance to their tough budget plans, which have +/- 0 chance of passing the Senate.

On the left hand, President Obama and Democrats are counting on inflaming such fears among future seniors to help their election cause next year when the former state senator attempts to become only the second White House Democrat to win two terms since a generation before Obama was born somewhere.Social Security Logo

This as the GOP in Congress earnestly attempts to address the $14 trillion federal deficit by pushing for cost-saving reforms in sacred but encrusted entitlement programs such as Medicare that are rapidly outrunning the ability of the aging and shrinking workforce to underwrite them.

Lowered expectations are also creeping through the nation's mindset.

While Washington politicians pontificate and argue over preserving Social Security as a sacred trust, fully six out of ten American workers have already decided that after an entire working life contributing from every paycheck, they will actually receive no benefits from Social Security upon retirement.

That's the most pessimistic level in nearly a quarter-century.

Gallup has also detected a change in expectations about retirement age.

Sixteen years ago when Gallup asked that question, only 12% said they would have to work past 65. That percentage has now more than tripled (37%). 

Likewise, the proportion that says it will retire before age 65 has plummeted from 47% down to 28%, who are still fooling themselves.

-- Andrew Malcolm

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Photos: St. Joseph County Ancestry; Mark Wilson / Getty Images (an elderly politician).

Comments () | Archives (8)

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"This as the GOP in Congress earnestly attempts to address the $14 trillion federal deficit ..." How does the three trillion tax cut for corporations and the rich fit in to this earnest attempt? I certainly can see how today's GOP are adding to the retirement fears of most people in this country. In order to save Medicare, they have to destroy it.

Americans have no faith in the government because the government has STOLEN money from their paychecks for their entire lives and LIED to them about it.

I pity those who have not saved for retirement. Given the totally irresponsible spending of Obama, SS and medicare may not be there for them when they need it. Better small cuts now, than nothing at all later.

I have saved enough for retirement, but Obamas policies are so bad that even I am worried. I am worried that Obama spending, combined with Fed quantative easing, may result in my retirement savings being lost to inflation and tax hikes, so even those who saved responsibly are not safe from Obama.

We need to get rig of this clown now, and all others who support him on the spending gravy train, while we still have a country left.

To Terry W:
For decades, fed spending as a % of GDP was never over 20%. Under the dems you love so much it is now up to 25%. When you finally agree to enough spending cuts to return it to 20%, requiring at least a 20% cut in fed spending across the board, then and only then will I be willing to support some tax hikes to finally begin paying off some of the debt. If you think we can tax our way out of this problem, you are totally deluded.

And puttng medicare under a premium support, multiple choice, private plan, the same plan that members of congress have now, in order to control completely out of control cost increases, is not destroying medicate, it is saving it. But you dems would rather bury your heads in the sand, and oppose any spending cuts, just so long as you can keep your big gov, until we go bopke like Greece.

The Ryan plan is serious. The deficit commission plan is serious. The Obama plan is a joke, and only serious as a piece of campaign demagaguery, that some fools like you are willing to beleive.

Paraphrasing Churchill. never before in human history have so many (our whole nation) been so badly served, and so completely destroyed, by so few (irresponsible dem socialists like you).

The ultra-rich have low taxes that date back to WWI, thanks to Republicans, who also wouldn't even vote in favor of a single one-time payment of $250 to our veterans this year. Oil company profits are up 41%. BP may actually PROFIT from the oil spill that has killed and injured so many and so very much (while GOP Rep. Joe Barton of Texas LITERALLY APOLOGIZES !!! to BP for Obama's requiring the foreign conglomerate to pay some of the costs) - (example, the marine-in-training who had multiple seizures and numerous disorders and whose friend simply dropped dead from dispersants which are banned by the UK? Oh, well) . Most wealth is concentrated with the 1% (or 400 families), many, if not most of whom pay no taxes or less than your librarian. This is what Americans voted for.

We did this. None of the great minds talk about a people who desperately WANT to be enslaved, imprisoned and dehumanized during their few years on the planet. The majority members of this Congress want to end Social Security, public schools, public libraries, public parks. Yet we get to clean up after their owner's oil spills, cave-ins, nuclear and industrial accidents, give the trillionaires trillions more of free money, at watch Obama place the thieves at the help of Government, while we cannot afford dinner or a clean cup of water after the $1500 rent, while we live in our cars and provide $7 million a day in welfare to the Fascist state of Israel (sorry folks: homeland to many if not most of the Wall Street crimminals and international thieves). The globalists get to foil our water and air. You can't plant a garden or play in parts of Carson. We have bridges and aqueducts that date back to the Civil War - Sen. Bernie Sanders gave a couple of examples in his filibuster speech on 12/11/10.

Liberals are driving this country over a cliff.. Too much big government, EPA stopping any drilling in Alaska.. The beat goes on.. This country is polluted by the Government. Enough with these politicians and there long time careers milking deals and handing out favors. My 401 k lost tons of my hard earned dollars in 2008 & 2009. I wonder, who took that money, it didn't just evaporate into thin air... One day it was there and the next it was gone.. I think it had something to do with the Housing Bubble.. I really think it had to do with Barney Frank and Chris Dowd bad decision making.. I'm sick and tired of all of the crap that is going down.. Time to put the brakes on and start steering in a new direction.. away from Big Government...

If obumboo keeps going the way he is going and gets reelected there will not be any money in the hands of the American citizens to buy anything. If you do have any money it will be called toilet paper.

An aspect of retirement which is far too often overlooked is "What in the world will the newly retired person do?" Yes, the financial aspects of retirement are important, but yet more important are the lifestyle decisions necessary to create a rewarding, adventure filled retired lifestyle. Bill


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About the Columnist
A veteran foreign and national correspondent, Andrew Malcolm has served on the L.A. Times Editorial Board and was a Pulitzer finalist in 2004. He is the author of 10 nonfiction books and father of four. Read more.
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