Sen. Casey touts work on committee for aging after AARP poll shows tie with McCormick among older voters

In an interview with WHYY News, Casey said his challenger, David McCormick, wants to privatize Social Security and Medicare and roll back legislation reducing drug prices.

Bob Casey

Sen. Bob Casey, D-Pa., speaks during an event at AFSCME Council 13 offices, March 14, 2024, in Harrisburg, Pa (AP Photo/Marc Levy, file)

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Dem. Sen. Bob Casey is courting older voters in Pennsylvania, launching “Seniors for Casey.” In an interview with WHYY News, Casey highlighted the differences between his party and Republicans on issues important to seniors, such as Social Security and Medicare and presenting his record in Congress.

“I think that’s going to be the differences between me and my opponent are going to be abundantly clear by the end of the race,” Casey said about weak poll numbers among the older age groups. “I think voters are just kind of tuning into the race now. They probably know a little more about me than they know about him, but they’re still tuning into these issues.

Casey has a net favorability rating of 14 percentage points and a job approval rating of more than 15 points among older voters, according to an AARP poll. However, while he remains several points ahead of his opponent among younger voters, he is in a dead heat with challenger David McCormick among voters 50 years old and older.

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Older voters tend to lean more Republican than their younger counterparts, and the same AARP poll showed Pres. Joe Biden 10 points below Donald Trump among the same demographic in the Keystone State.

They also vote more often. A recent Pew study found that nationally, 72% of 65 years and older voted in 2020, compared to 48% of those under 24 and 55% of those between 25 and 44. Pennsylvania is the 10th oldest state in the nation with a median age of 41, according to the U.S. Census Bureau.

The new initiative is likely, therefore, to work on shoring up more support among seniors and near-seniors by trying to highlight his work as chair of the U.S. Senate Special Committee on Aging. The committee does not have legislative authority but researches issues that directly impact seniors, including topics such as Social Security and Medicare. As chair, Casey said, he has advocated for funding to sustain programs that support older Americans, such as home health services and meal delivery. He has also supported programs that combat scams using artificial intelligence to target seniors.

Casey said he is particularly proud of the effort to cap insulin costs at $35 a month for seniors and called it “a major win” for Democrats in Congress. He said such progress would come to a standstill if his opponent and the Republicans win.

Republicans are “still making these crazy proposals to privatize Social Security, which was stopped in its tracks way back in 2005, but it’s still part of their agenda,” Casey told WHYY News. “Multiple times Republicans have tried to voucherize Medicare.”

In the interview, Casey argued that McCormick would vote with his party and to roll back the limitations if elected.

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Responding to a request for comment, the McCormick campaign didn’t specifically mention issues concerned for seniors but called Casey’s voting record a “disaster for Pennsylvania.”

“He knows it, the people of PA know it, and they’re going to hold him responsible when they vote to retire him on November 5,” the statements said. “Bob Casey should stop lying to the people of Pennsylvania and start explaining why he voted to lower taxes for the liberal elite in New York and California while raising them for working families.”

Casey is currently in the middle of negotiating reauthorization of the Older Americans Act which, enacted in 2019, provides support for seniors living on their own at home by funding for meal delivery and home health care services.

The act is set to expire in September and will likely pass with votes from both parties. However, Casey argues that it requires more revenue.

“There might be a little bit of a tug of war on that, but I’m hoping we can get it reauthorized again in a bipartisan fashion,” he said.

The final bill will likely have an impact on the 27% of Pennsylvanians 50 and over who provide care to another family member, many of them women, who leave careers to fill that role. According to the AARP poll, 53% of such caregivers plan to vote for McCormick.

“I’ve been leading on that issue in the Senate and part of that effort on home and community-based services involves making sure that family caregivers get the help that they need,” he said. “It’s an issue that every family’s going to face. I don’t care how rich you are or how well off you think you are, you’re going to be facing these family caregiver decisions and challenges, and we’ve got to be there for those families.”

Casey has been endorsed by several organizations representing seniors, including the National Committee To Preserve Social Security and Medicare and Alliance for Retired Americans.

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