Tuesday, October 16, 2007

October 16, 2007

The picture in The Washington Post was ordinary enough - a woman signing up for Social Security payments.
But it may really have been a picture of a government starting to collapse. That's because the woman was a baby-boomer.
The first of them, born after World War Two ended in 1945, are now sixty-two and eligible for Social Security.

Waves of boomers will follow and the system will gain millions of recipients while the work force paying the taxes to support the system will, relatively, shrink. The Post says Social Security will go into the red in 2017, ten years from now, and go broke in 2041. Medicare goes into debt in 2013 and goes broke in 2019.

Everybody who follows the news knows this is happening, except, maybe, the presidential candidates of both parties who pretty much ignore the hippopotamus sitting in the living room. Republican Fred Thompson has proposed cutting benefits for future retirees but not for anyone getting payments now. None of the others has said anything much, as far as I know. And of course it's painful. There are only two ways to fix the system--cut benefits and/or raise taxes. You can understand why candidates don't like to recommend either of those.

And it's not as if we were saving money to pay the boomers when it's their turn. The budget deficit for fiscal 2007, the year that ended September 30th, was 163 billion dollars. That's way down from what it was two years ago but, still, that's a whole lot of money. And, no, the Congress hasn't passed any of the appropriations bills for this year. And, yes, the President has vetoed a bill expanding health care for poor children. Congress will try to override the veto but will probably fail.

All this suggests a government which is fairly dysfunctional. And that suggests there ought to be a market for a presidential candidate who says this and who campaigns with passion for big, big changes in the way the government works. Big calls for big changes.

But I haven't seen that candidate. Have you?

1 comment:

Clarissa Wittenberg said...

Congratulations on your blog. I appreciate your perspective on the big isssues of our day.