In today’s Washington Post, Robert J. Samuelson takes aim at his generation’s indifference to the looming entitlements crisis:
Shame on us. We are trying to rob our children and grandchildren, putting the country’s future at risk in the process. On one of the great issues of our time, the social and economic costs of our retirement, we have adopted a policy of selfish silence.
As Congress reconvenes, pledges of “fiscal responsibility” abound. Let me boldly predict: On retirement spending, this Congress will do nothing, just as previous Congresses have done nothing. Nancy Pelosi promises to “build a better future for all of America’s children.” If she were serious, she would back cuts in Social Security and Medicare. President Bush calls “entitlement spending” the central budget problem. If he were serious, he, too, would propose cuts in Social Security and Medicare.
They are not serious, because few Americans — particularly prospective baby-boom retirees — want them to be. There is a consensus against candor, because there is no constituency for candor. It’s no secret that the 65-and-over population will double by 2030 (to almost 72 million, or 20 percent of the total population), but hardly anyone wants to face the implications:
It’s another reason why I’m not optimistic that ill-conceived Democratic programs targeted at the middle class will be net vote losers anytime soon.
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