Monday, January 09, 2006

77 million baby boomers

Robert J. Samuelson, writing in the Washington Post, warns of the impending disaster represented by the suite of current U.S. entitlement programs. His op-ed, entitled "Our Entitlement Paralysis," is a must-read.

...By 2030, Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid may cost 15 percent of national income -- almost double their level in 2000 and equal to 75 percent of today's federal budget. Left alone, these programs would require massive tax increases, cause immense deficits or crowd out other important government programs. We also know of at least partial solutions: curb costs by slowly raising eligibility ages and cutting benefits for wealthier recipients.

Still, we fiddle...

And there's plenty of blame to go 'round:

The responsibility for this failure is widespread: among liberals, who like massive government programs; among conservatives, who fantasize about "free market" alternatives to Social Security and Medicare; among pundits and "experts," who speak of the "entitlement crisis" in meaningless generalities or incomprehensible technicalities...

Still, it would be nice to have an opposition party capable of rational problem-solving, rather than irrational obstructionism. One can dare to dream, after all.

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