In today’s New York Times, Ross Douthat troubles himself to understand why the Republicans are avoiding giant tax increases in the debt ceiling negotiations (if only the same could be said for David Brooks).
Douthat mentions, among other important points, that it will only become harder for Republicans to reform federal spending as time passes:
The long-term deck is stacked in favor of tax increases. For decades, the tug-of-war between left and right has kept government’s share of the economy nearly constant, around 19 percent of G.D.P. But in what you might call the revenge of Lyndon Johnson, the ballooning cost of Medicare is poised to tilt the debate decisively toward liberalism.
For now, tax increases and entitlement cuts are equally unpopular. But with every passing year, the constituency for letting Medicare grow as scheduled gets bigger and bigger, and the clout of working-age taxpayers diminishes. Already, even a relatively radical proposal like Paul Ryan’s budget seems compelled to exempt current retirees from its Medicare reforms. Imagine how the landscape will look in a decade.