Monday, June 30, 2014

Inspiration and Incentives Required

Inspiration and incentives.

If you want to look at the direction of any organization, institution, corporation or nation you can most likely determine where it is going by looking at these two factors.

It starts at the top. What is the inspiration from the leadership?  Where are they trying to take the group? What tone is set?  How is it communicated?

The reality is that most people follow rather than lead.  They look for leadership and they also look to others around them for approval of their actions.  Most people want to conform.  They don't want to be an outlier. They want to fit in.  They don't want to rock the boat.

That is why leadership is so important.  The tone at the top quickly cascades through an organization and one voice can quickly become a chorus.

The incentives in the system are also critically important. Human beings will do what is in their best interest. Period.

Incentives drive the world. If the incentives for people are properly aligned, you will get the result you want.  If the incentives are not properly aligned, you will get poor results.  Whenever you get a poor result it is likely that you will find that the underlying incentives were not aligned properly.

We see this all the time in public policy.  If you pay people not to work, they will not work.  If you give aid to single mothers with dependent children, you will end up with more children who are dependent. If you penalize corporations by taxing repatriated earnings, they will not bring money back to the United States they earned (and were taxed on) overseas. If employers get a tax advantage for providing health care to their employees, you end up with an employer-based health system rather than an individual-based market. If you provide low-cost federal student loans, kids will go to college and colleges will be able to keep increasing tuition.

The Veterans Administration mess is a perfect example of the wrong inspiration at the top and misaligned incentives throughout the organization.

What did the VA managers see as their inspiration from the top with Barack Obama as President? What did they believe they should be focusing on at the VA? Improved health outcomes? World class healthcare technology? Better coordination of care? Where did they think they should be spending tax dollars on to improve the VA and the patient experience?

The answer. Solar and wind power.

This included spending $20 million on a solar carport in Phoenix where the VA scandal first became news. 

This report from provides the details.

Veterans Administration hospitals have spent at least $420 million on solar panels and windmills while vets wait months — or even lay dying — to see a doctor.
A whistleblower revealed Tuesday that seven of the patients listed on the Phoenix VA hospitals waiting list are already dead. That same Phoenix facility spent $20 million to build the nation’s largest solar carport. Phase one of the project was completed in 2011. The hospital also had an $11.4 million shortfall that year, an Inspector General’s report stated.
Where did anyone get the idea that pursuing solar and wind energy projects at the VA was more important than focusing on the patients? Do you think that those VA administrators just might have taken the cue from their leader on what was really important?  There is little doubt that they heard a lot more from the President the last few years on solar energy than they ever did about improving the patient experience at the VA.  

As for incentives at the VA, what happened with those? Did they get the desired result?

On its face, reducing wait times would seem to be a logical patient-centered goal that you would want to incentivize with the VA.  However, with a government-controlled enterprise you don't have the checks and balances you have in the private sector.  As a result, it allowed the human beings running the VA to game the system to their advantage.  They simply ran two sets of books.  The waiting list to determine their bonus showed they were meeting all goals.  Of course, the real set of books showed many, many patients waiting months for an appointment.

In the private sector, the enterprise would see a loss of volume and revenue as disgruntled customers went elsewhere as they had to wait longer and longer for appointments.  Of course, with the VA, most of these customers had no other choice.  They had no where else to go.  The VA was the only game in town and the patients were the ones being gamed along with the taxpayers who paid the bills.

Why has it been found that the same problem was endemic throughout the VA system?  It goes to my earlier points. The culture of leadership (or lack thereof) at the top and the fact that "everyone was doing it" practically guaranteed that these problems were not isolated to one or two hospitals.  

'Why should I be the only one in the VA to not get a bonus?" had to be going through every administrator's mind in the organization.

Inspiration and incentives.  Totally lacking and sadly misaligned at the VA.

Here is hoping that my fellow Cincinnatian, Bob McDonald, can bring the needed inspiration that is needed at the top of the VA and he can also properly align the incentives to turn the VA around.

Bob McDonald, Photo Credit: P&G

Our veterans deserve it. Our nation depends on it. Our reputation with those who might serve our country in the future demands it.

Friday, June 27, 2014

California Dreamin'

I just got back today from five days in the San Diego, California area.

LaJolla, California

I love to visit California. It has spectacular weather, stunning views and splendid places to see. I just could not live or work there due to its current tax, business and political climate. Ironically, if it were not for its other climate factors-sun, surf and Silicon Valley- I am not sure where California would be right now. I can assure you it would not be good.

I can predict with reasonable certainty that California is facing very dire financial problems at some point in the future. It has built a governmental edifice on a foundation of tax policies that is weaker than the San Andreas fault. It is just a matter of time before it breaks.

Today it is hard to believe that California was where the modern tax revolt began in this country over 35 years ago with the passage of Proposition 13 that limited increases in property taxes in the state. Proposition 13 was enacted through initiative in California and it also marked the beginning of increased voter activism through the initiative process.

Prop 13 was the defining moment when citizens stopped trusting their elected officials to represent them and recognized that most of the time politicians were only taking care of themselves and their special interests.  Politicians are not naturally disposed to want to limit taxes.  After all, tax revenues are their lifeblood. Without tax dollars to pass out and redistribute, politicians have no power.

The problem with Prop 13 in California was that it was limited to property taxes. It did not place any direct limits on income, sales or other taxes (although it does require a 2/3 vote to increase taxes via the legislature). You see the results in California today.

The top individual income tax in California is now 13.3%.  The tax brackets are extremely progressive (matching the political environment).  Income tax rates are 1% for the first $7,582 of income but a single filer is taxed at 9.3% of adjusted gross income on anything above $49,774. This means that most working households are paying almost 10% in marginal income tax rates.

Compare that to Ohio were I live where the top marginal rate is now 5.92%. The rate is 4.11% for a single filer with $50,000 of income.  Sales tax in the county where I live is 6.75%.

I paid 8% in sales tax on several purchases while I was in the San Diego area (anything I can do to help out).  However, in some cities in California the total sales tax is as high as 9.5%.  Therefore, middle class households in California are shelling out almost 20% of their marginal income just for state income and sales taxes!  That is about twice as much as the middle class household in Ohio.

Combine that with sky-high housing costs in California and you can readily see the exorbitant cost of living with all that sun, surf and some Silicon Valley millionaires close by.

Speaking of millionaires it was amazing to drive down along the coast through Carlsbad, Del Mar, LaJolla, Pacific Beach and Coronado and see the construction and remodeling work being done. If you want to see trickle down economics it was there to see.  People want to complain about the rich but I saw scores of plumbers and carpenters on those sites working and I also saw tons of people at bars and restaurants redistributing money through the private sector while I was there.

A major problem for California is that it has become increasingly reliant on that progressive income tax system and a dwindling number of rich taxpayers to foot the bill for most of the state's services.  For example, nearly 50% of income tax collections are for those in the top 1% of income earners and 67% of all of the state's tax revenues are coming from the personal income tax.

For those who want to argue that they are "rich" so it is only fair that they pay more, consider the following chart that shows that the top 1% in California consistently have paid double their share of income in taxes. In other words, the top 1% are earning about 20-25% of total income but are paying 40-50% of total income taxes in any given year.

California Legislative Analyst's Office

How many people is that?  Less than 150,000 taxpayers.  The population of California? 38 million. That is a very big burden placed on a relatively small number of income earners.

Personal income taxes in California have also become the most significant revenue source in the state over the years. They now represent about 2/3 of all revenues to the state-almost triple their share compared to 1970.

California Legislative Analyst's Office

California State Controller's Office

California has also become dangerously dependent on those top income earners pulling in large capital gains and income from stock options.  You can see that in the spike in incomes of the top 1% in 2000 and the 2005-2007 period.  The reality in California is that the share of income of the top 1% is very volatile in that it is so dependent on stock options, the stock market, real estate investments and capital gains.

You can also see it in the recent trend in income tax collections compared to sales tax and corporate income taxes.  It is very telling that sales tax collections in California were essentially the same in 2013 as they were in 2003 but income tax collections more than doubled.

California State Controller's Office

Thank you Google, Facebook, Amazon and many others who made it happen.  Thank you Ben Bernanke and Janet Yellen and low interest rates.

However, can California keep the people in the state who made these ideas a success?  Can they attract new talent and capital to the state over the long term with the tax, regulatory and political climate they currently have in place?

And what happens to California if interest rates climb and tech stocks fall?

As the Mama's and Papa's put it in their song, California Dreamin', it will be a winter's day but I doubt you will be safe and warm in L.A.

All the leaves are brown 
And the sky is grey 
I went for a walk 
On a winter's day 
I'd be safe and warm 
If I was in L.A. 
California dreamin' 
On such a winter's day 

At that time it might also be time to stop in the church and do something more than pretend to pray.

I stopped into a church (stopped into a church) 
I passed along the way (passed along the way) 
You know, I got down on my knees (got down on my knees) 
And I pretend to pray (I pretend to pray) 
Oh, the preacher likes the cold (preacher likes the cold) 
He knows I'm gonna stay (knows I'm gonna stay) 
Oh, California dreamin' (California dreamin') 
On such a winter's day 

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

So Wrong About So Much At The Expense Of So Many

I have not written as many BeeLine posts this year as I have in the past. I have tried to determine exactly why that is. Three possible reasons come to mind. By coincidence or not, all of my reasons begin with the letter "D". I guess that letter is on my mind because I am just hoping we can get to a "D" grade level in Presidential leadership right now.

Discouragement- Quite frankly, the news every day is not encouraging. I find it harder to write and comment on the issues of the day when everything seems to be unraveling. It is especially discouraging knowing that a lot of this was avoidable. The American people had a choice two years ago about our leadership and our future and made the wrong one.

I wrote this the day after the 2012 Presidential election.

The results of yesterday's election clearly show that we are in The Fourth Turning. History is not made by events but by the reaction of human beings to events.  We saw clear evidence of that yesterday. We are hurtling down the road for a rendezvous with history of our own making.  Two clearly marked paths were there for choosing.  The American people made their choice.   We all will have to deal with where it leads.
Choices have consequences.  We will learn what they are together.  For better or worse. Our only hope now is that the President we elected yesterday is not the same leader we had for the last four years.

The sad truth is that we are all finding out that the President we have is actually much, much worse than was even evident in his first four years. No wonder I am discouraged.

Disinterest- I care a lot about our country, my fellow Americans and our future. I have spent hours pondering the issues of the day and hours more crafting and formulating perspectives and prescriptions for solutions to some of our problems in these pages. However, when the President of the United States seems more interested in playing golf, attending political fundraisers and playing endless political games than dealing with the issues in front of him, it is easy for everyone else (including me) to put my time and attention elsewhere.

If the President can play golf over the weekend while Iraq implodes and we still don't know what he was doing the night of the attack on the Benghazi consulate than more important than four American lives (including an American ambassador), I don't feel so bad in not cranking out two or three BeeLine posts per week.

I am reminded of this quote by Harry S. Truman that seems apt today.
Men make history and not the other way around. In periods where there is no leadership, society stands still. Progress occurs when courageous, skillful leaders seize the opportunity to change things for the better."
Courage? Skill? Seizing opportunity? Using this definition, Barack Obama is the antithesis of a leader. Our society is not standing still, it is in retreat.

Deja Vu- I also can't shake the feeling that I have seen and experienced all of this before. It seems like I am living it all over again.  After all, I was around when Nixon and Carter were Presidents. I saw the corruption of the Nixon administration and the incompetence of Carter. ( I am also happy to report that I did not vote for either one).  It is hard to believe but the Obama administration seems to have combined the worst aspects of both of these failed Presidencies and combined it into a colossal conglomeration of corruption, chicanery, circumvention of the Constitution and clear-cut incompetence.

I like how former Vice President Dick Cheney and his daughter, Liz, put it in an op-ed in The Wall Street Journal today.

Rarely has a U.S. president been so wrong about so much at the expense of so many. 

Am I being too critical?

Consider the following that have come from the headlines in just the last few days.

White House Honors 10 Young Illegal Immigrants
If this is not bad enough, President Obama does it at the same time there is a flood of young, illegal immigrants overwhelming our border authorities.  Of course, all this will do is incentive more illegal immigrants to do the same. The operative word here is "illegal". What happened to the rule of law? What happened to faithfully executing the laws of the United States of America in accordance with the Constitution?

Obama Administration Suggests U.S. May Join with Iran to stop ISIS in Iraq 
Does anyone remember that Iran is probably directly responsible for at least 1/3 of our combat deaths in Iraq?

Obama's Unbelievable Lost IRS Emails For Lois Lerner and Six Others
Richard Nixon was impeached and ultimately resigned due to an 18.5 minute tape erasure on a key piece of evidence about the Watergate coverup and for using the IRS for political purposes.  What more can be said?

I have said it before and I will say it again, I believe than in the fullness of time the history books will judge President Barack Obama very harshly. Future generations will likely wonder how the American people could have let themselves be bamboozled by someone who when, viewed in retrospect, was not much different than a 19th century snake oil salesman.  Articulate and personable with a nice smile who was great on the stump.  However, in the end, that was all there was.

So wrong about so much at the expense of so many.  It is a long way from hope and change.

And do you understand why it has become so much harder to write this blog?

Thursday, June 12, 2014

Boom and Bust?

10,000 baby boomers retired yesterday. Another 10,000 retired today and an additional 10,000 will retire tomorrow.

We are in the early stages of what will be a massive number of people leaving the workforce and beginning "life without a paycheck".


The retirement trend will continue for another decade before it begins to level off but the effects of this age wave will continue for years to come.

By 2050 it is projected that there will twice as many Americans over the age of 65 as there are today. We are talking about 90 million people or 20% of the nation's population.  To put that in context, the U.S. population was only 150 million in total in 1950.  It will be as if the entire United States resembles Florida's demographic makeup today (actually Florida's age 65 and over population is only 18% today.)

If you don't think this is a tidal wave consider the fact that Cerulli Associates predicts that the 401(k) system will become cash-flow negative beginning in 2016.  Simply stated, there will be more money being withdrawn from 401(k) plans from people retiring than there is money being put into 401(k) plans by those still working. Cerulli projects that $366 billion will be withdrawn in 2016 compared to $364 billion in inflows.

How well are all of these seniors prepared for retirement? Few outside of the public sector has a pension plan to rely on. What lies ahead in the future?  Social Security and Medicare programs will undoubtedly face severe financial strains.   Where will the money being withdrawn from 401(k)'s be invested? What will that mean to the equity and bond markets? Can seniors really rely on the "promise" of Social Security and Medicare?

There are many clouds on the horizon for those people retiring right now. Where can they earn a "safe" yield in a low interest rate environment? What about inflation? What about health care and the effects of Obamacare on the system?  1 out of 3 practicing physicians are over the age of 55 themselves. One survey I saw predicts a shortage of 120,000 doctors by 2025-that is a mere nine years away. What about the long-term value of the dollar?

I am getting a headache, get me a doctor! There are gray skies on the horizon everywhere you look.

As troubling as the questions are today, a secure retirement has always been an elusive goal for most Americans.

Despite what you often hear about the demise of defined benefit plans, the fact is that even in their hey-day in the 1970's, less than 50% of American private sector workers were covered by a retirement plan.

Nevin Adams of the Employee Benefit Research Institute calls out other retirement myths and reminds us that the "good old days" were really not that good for retirees if you consider the facts.  Here are a few facts that dispel the "myths" and explains that the present 401(k) retirement system has a number of advantages over the pension system.

  • There are actually more private sector workers participating in a workplace retirement plan today than there were in 1979. A pension plan did you no good if your employer did not offer it.
  • Median job tenure has hovered around 5 years since the 1950's.  It actually is 5.4 today-slightly higher than the long-term average.  Short tenure and job hopping quickly kills the typical defined benefit plan for a worker. In fact, with the old cliff vesting rules in place before the early 1980's, you might have to work years before becoming eligible for any benefit.  For example, my father did not become vested until he worked 20 years with his employer.  If he left at 19 years, he was entitled to zilch.
  • Between 1987 and 2012, fewer than 1 in 5 private sector employees spent 25 years or more with one employer.  Therefore, few workers would have received a "full" pension under most pension calculation rules even if they were in place.

You will notice that all of the facts above cite private sector retirement arrangements. The fact remains that most public sector employees are still covered by a pension plan while less than 15% of private sector workers are.  However, public sector employees have their own worries heading into retirement. Will they collect all that they expect?  They won't in Detroit.  And I suspect there should be significant worries as well for public sector employees in Illinois and a few other states.

We can only hope that all those boomers aren't busted before it is over. 

My advice? Have a big number set aside before thinking about retiring. I have done a lot of financial modeling for retirement for various people and I think most people need investable assets of about 10 times their final income to be reasonably confident that their nest egg at age 65 is big enough to sustain them through their lifetime in retirement (assuming no pension but considering full social security). 

Those with lower incomes can get by with a little less as social security payments will replace more income.  Those with higher incomes may need a higher multiple as social security provides a smaller income replacement ratio. The same goes for your retirement age. If you retire before age 65 you will need more than 10x. The longer you defer retirement after age 65, the multiple needed gets progressively lower with each year of added work and pay.

Sunday, June 8, 2014

A Curmudgeon's Conundrum

I like words.  I guess that is why I write BeeLine.

I especially like words that seem to convey their meaning even when you may have never heard the word before.  In thinking about this, it seems that a lot of these words begin with "c".




Of course, this all might be in my imagination because the fact is that once we learn something we cannot unlearn it. It stays with us.  It is impossible to go back and look at something the same way we did before we learned it.

Therefore, I think chaos perfectly represents complete disorder and confusion because that is what I have learned.  A curmudgeon is that old guy (Andy Rooney?) who always seems to be annoyed about something and it always will be. The guy and girl at the end of the bar who are cuddling and kissing are canoodling. But did I really think that way before I added those words to my vocabulary/

Another similar word is conundrum. When I think of conundrum I think of something that is puzzling, confusing or even paradoxical.

With that in mind someone sent me the following email the other day with"Conundrum" in the subject line.  I don't know who the original author was of this piece but it does raise some interesting points to consider.

Here it is exactly as I received it.

A conundrum....very strange

The definition of the word Conundrum is: something that is puzzling or confusing.

Here are six Conundrums of socialism in the United States of America:

1. America is capitalist and greedy - yet half of the population is subsidized.

2. Half of the population is subsidized - yet they think they are victims.

3. They think they are victims - yet their representatives run the government.

4. Their representatives run the government - yet the poor keep getting poorer.

5. The poor keep getting poorer - yet they have things that people in other countries only dream about.

6. They have things that people in other countries only dream about - yet they want America to be more like those other countries.

Think about it! And that, my friends, pretty much sums up the USA in the 21st Century.

Makes you wonder who is doing the math.

These three, short sentences tell you a lot about the direction of our current government and cultural environment:

1. We are advised to NOT judge ALL Muslims by the actions of a few lunatics, but we are encouraged to judge ALL gun owners by the actions of a few lunatics. Funny how that works.

And here's another one worth considering...

2. Seems we constantly hear about how Social Security is going to run out of money. How come we never hear about welfare or food stamps running out of money? What's interesting is the first group "worked for" their money, but the second didn't. Think about it.....

and Last but not least,

3. Why are we cutting benefits for our veterans, no pay raises for our military and cutting our army to a level lower than before WWII, but we are not stopping the payments or benefits to illegal aliens.

Am I the only one missing something?

Add me to the list.  All of this is a conundrum to this curmudgeon as well.

What about you?

Wednesday, June 4, 2014

Screen Time

When my grandfather was growing up, when they talked about a screen they were talking about something to keep the flies out of the farmhouse.

When my father was growing up, the screen he talked about was the local movie theatre.

When I was growing up, it was the tv screen.

Today, we have so many screens it is hard to keep up with them.  TV's. Laptops and PC's. Smartphones. Tablets. Those window screens and big screens are also still around but you don't hear as much about them.

On the subject of screens, I came across this interesting chart at TweetSmarter that daily distribution of the amount of time (in minutes) that people in various countries in the world are interacting with those various screens.

A few fascinating facts for your fancy from the data in the chart.

  • People everywhere in the world are spending a lot of time looking at screens.  The average is between 7 and 8 hours per day.
  • Indonesians are spending around 9 hours a day in front of screens to lead the world. Italians are at the bottom but they are still logging over 5 hours a day with screens.
  • Americans are still watching more TV screens than anyone-an average of 147 minutes per day. On the other end of the spectrum, the Vietnamese are only in front of the TV for a little over an hour.
  • The Chinese are on the laptop or PC longer than anyone-161 minutes per day. Compare that to Kenyans who are only spending 65 minutes and the Japanese who are only spending 68 minutes per day in front of the computer screen.
  • You need to go to Africa to get the highest daily diet of smartphone usage. Nigerians are putting in 174 minutes and the Saudis are logging 169 minutes per day on the small screen.  The French are at the bottom of this category with only 79 minutes per day.
  • The tablet kings are in the Phillipines (115 minutes) and Indonesia (110 minutes). I was surprised that the Japanese are tapping on their tablets for a meager 15 minutes per day. 
How much time are you spending if front or your screens each day?

Sunday, June 1, 2014

How Much Older And Wiser Can We Be In Two Years?

How could the GOP take 63 House seats in 2010 in what clearly was a clear rejection of the Democrats who passed Obamacare only to see Obama win in 2012?

How did that happen? Did that much change in two years?

What can we expect in the mid-term elections this November?

This chart explains a lot of what is going on. It shows voter turnout by age segment since 1964. Go here if you want to view a larger version of the chart.


First, it shows that the electorate has gotten increasingly older over time.  In 1964, even before the Baby Boomers became voter eligible, 51 million in the age 18-24 cohort cast ballots.  However, they were still outnumbered by those age 65 and over that were voting. 66 million seniors cast ballots in 1964.

In 2012, 70 million people age 65 and over cast ballots compared to 38 million between the ages of 18-24.  The clear trend over the last fifty years is that there are more seniors voting than ever before (the primary reason is that there are many more age 65 and older Americans than ever) and fewer young people voting.

Are you beginning to understand why it is so hard for any politician to think about proposing any changes to Social Security and Medicare?

The other thing that stands out to me in the chart is the significant volatility in voting patterns of young voters between mid-term and Presidential election years.  Only 45%-60% of young voters in a Presidential election year will typically bother to cast a ballot two years later. On the other hand, you can count on 85%-88% of those age 65 or older who voted in the Presidential election to be at the polls in the mid-terms.

Why did the Democrats get hammered at the voting booth in 2010?  Voter turnout for those aged 18-24 was less than 20 million (45%) compared to the 44 million who turned out in 2008.  At the same time, 59 million of those age 65+ who voted in 2008 showed up to vote in 2010 (a mere 9 million drop-87%).

Another way to look at it is that in 2010 there were 3 voters age 65 and over for every voter 18-24.  In 2012, there were only 1.5 older voters to every younger voter.  The older voter advantage was cut in half in the Obama election of 2012.

Those numbers made a huge difference between those two years.

Let's look at the numbers assuming 60% of the younger voters supported the Democrats in 2010 and Obama in 2012 (60% of voters age 24 and under in the 2012 exit poll stated they voted for Obama) and assume 56% of voters age 65 and older supported the GOP in 2010 and Romney in 2012 (that is the exit poll number for Romney in 2012).

Here are the vote totals in millions using those assumptions for these two age groups.

                             Democrats              GOP

18-24                        11.4                     7.6
65+                           26.0                    33.0

Total 2010                37.4                    40.6      GOP wins big            

18-24                        26.4                    17.6
65+                           29.9                    38.1

Total 2012                56.3                    55.7     Obama beats Romney

The GOP won big in 2010 because younger voters did not vote. Obama won in 2012 because 24 million more young voters turned out compared to only 9 million more senior voters turning out compared to what they did two years earlier. That larger turnout resulted in a net increase of 4 million votes (from a losing margin to a winning margin) for the Democrats from 2010 to 2012. How big was that? Obama beat Romney by 5 million total votes.

Why is all of this important in 2014?  It says to me that the 2014 mid-term elections are going to be determined by two major factors-turnout and Obamacare. Obamacare remains deeply unpopular among older voters (most polls shows 60% disapprove in the age 65+ cohort).  Looking at historical voting patterns this spells trouble for the Democrats unless they can energize younger voters to vote in 2014. Voters under the age of 30 are the only age group that has positive views towards Obamacare.

Right now I like the odds for the GOP in November if they keep talking about the ills of Obamacare. They need to ignore anyone in their own ranks who says that it is time to accept Obamacare as the law of land.

There may be truth to that from a policy perspective that repealing Obamacare is a dead horse but that is totally wrong from a political perspective.  The polls indicate that it still is a very powerful emotional issue with voters (especially those who are opposed) and it remains the one issue that will get people to turn out to vote.

And although it might make sense for Republicans to be looking for ways to "fix" or "amend" Obamacare from a policy perspective, that position has no legs politically.  People vote "yes" or "no", they don't vote to fix something when they are not sure what the fix is.

In addition, the VA Scandal has just provided yet another opportunity to talk about the problems inherent in government-run healthcare.  How long will it be until you are put on a wait list by some government bureaucrat?  That is a pretty powerful question to be asking older voters.

My advice to Republicans is simple. Obamacare is a gift horse, not a dead horse.  Don't spend time talking about fixing it, keep talking about getting rid of it. The numbers above don't lie.  The 2014 elections will be determined by the ratio of older voters to younger voters.  It is that simple.