In the News

The first wave of baby boomers is drifting toward retirement, but many boomers are ill-prepared for the financial rapids that await them.
Tamara Draut, director of the economic opportunity program for Demos, a New York-based think tank, said people heading into retirement are racking up more credit card debt.
"Because baby boomers were really the first generation to delay child-bearing, what's happening is a lot of the major expenses of raising children, like paying college

When the dust settles from this year's election, Congress should begin drafting a new, comprehensive election reform law that includes the following...

According to a recent report from Demos, a pro-democracy organization, a majority of states will be throwing out provisional ballots cast in the wrong polling places, or otherwise undermining this new federal right. Congress should make clear that provisional ballots must be counted even if they are filed in the wrong polling places.

As the resident dean of the Crest Mobile Home Park in North Seattle, Wayne Nelson knows plenty of families struggling to keep food on the table. Voting can seem like a pretty useless exercise when there's a stack of unpaid bills on the kitchen table; he knows that from his own years of supporting a family on a cabdriver's wages.

Imagine a country with a separate voter registration system for poor people. A country that neglects this registration system for the poor so severely that in most areas fewer than one out of ten unregistered citizens actually use it. A country that so disregards the plight of its low-income citizens that their disenfranchisement -- and the attendant political disregard for the needs of the poor -- is rarely, if ever, reported. If you are an American citizen, look around -- it's your country.

Their financial plight mirrors the challenges other older Americans are facing. A sobering new report by Demos, a public policy group in New York, finds that between 1992 and 2001, the average credit-card debt among Americans over age 65 nearly doubled to $4,041.

Those between 65 and 69, many of them recent retirees, reported a stunning 217 percent increase in credit-card debt to $5,884. That's up from $1,842 in 1992. Among those between 55 and 64, credit-card debt jumped nearly 50 percent to $4,088. (The average American family saw an increase of 53 percent, to $4,196.)

Many seniors are in the same predicament. A recent study by Demos, a nonprofit public policy organization, found that one in five middle- to low-income seniors spent more than 40 percent of their fixed incomes on debt payments. They will all have to figure out ways to come up with the extra money to for the payments if rates rise. "As interest rates rise, we're going to see more and more people succumb to financial ruin," said Tamara Draut, director of the economic opportunity program at Demos.

"Credit-card debt is becoming common among older Americans in the same way it's common among all other age groups," says Tamara Draut, a director at Demos, a New York-based research and advocacy company, and co-author of a recent study on credit-card-debt trends among retirees. According to the study, nearly one-third of senior citizens in the U.S. carry card balances. Within that group, the average debt is $4,041, an 89% increase over the past decade.

Why America's young are being crushed by debt- and why no one seems to care. First in a new series, "Generation Debt: The New Economics of Being Young". foreclosure. "When we look at the median cost of housing, it used to be 30 years ago that a teacher could purchase a home on their own salary," says Tamara Draut, director of the Economic Opportunity Program at Demos. "Nowadays, it's hard for two teachers to purchase a home on their combined salaries."

Second, read a new report from Demos, a New York-based public policy research group. It found a frightening increase in credit card debt among older Americans. "Conventional wisdom suggests that this segment of the population -- with lifetimes of financial experience, an over 80% homeownership rate and a generational ethos of thrift -- would be immune to the record debt increases of the 1990s," the report notes.

David Callahan explains to's Heather Havrilesky why Americans lie more now than they did in the '50s, '60s or '70s.