Who's counting? The baby-boomers are coming
A $455-billion deficit, staggering as it sounds, is “not really a problem,” says Alan Murray, a long-time economics journalist and Washington whistle-blower.
The real problem, says Murray, is the fact that the baby-boomer generation will soon be cashing in on their retirement benefits to the tune of 20 percent of the nation’s economy, and when the government turns to the tax base to pay that bill, we can expect a revolt.
“Social security isn’t going to go bankrupt, it’s not going to go away,” explains Murray. “It’s just going to eat up the entire government.”
When you weigh that argument against stepped-up spending for national security, international peace-keeping, and foreign nation-building, both Republican enthusiasm for tax cuts and Democratic recipes for aggressive prescription drug coverage look like pipe dreams.
“Nobody’s talking about how we’re going to deal with that,” despairs Murray.
Nobody except maybe Howard Dean, the ex-governor of Vermont and man-who-would-be-candidate.
That’s why Murray, who co-hosts Capital Report on CNBC and pledges non-partisan interest in the economic welfare of the nation, is a Dean booster. Not for his anti-war rhetoric or pro-gay-unions stance, but for his publicly stated interest in boosting the retirement age by one year in the next quarter century.
It may be a baby-step, Murray concedes– he’d like to see retirement at 73 or 74. But it’s a gutsier stance than any other presidential aspirant will take. The senior citizen vote is just that powerful in 21st century America.
Opponents of any change in the retirement plan argue that they’ve paid for their retirement at age 67 through decades of withholding on their paychecks. “Baloney,” retorts Murray in a recent Wall Street Journal column. “The government taxes those who work in order to pay benefits for those who are retired.”
In other words-– you’re a team player.
Medical advances combined with an economic downturn have resulted in healthier seniors with more to gain from working into their sunset years, argues Murray. “If people live longer, why shouldn’t they work longer and be productive longer?”
After all, given the choice between fiscal patriotism and an extra five years of golf, which would you choose?
Alan Murray discusses “The Elephant on the Table: How Washington is Dancing Around the Coming Demographic Disaster” at the Miller Center on Monday, July 28, at 11am. 2201 Old Ivy Road. 924-0921.