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Raise taxes, cut social security benefits?

In an op-ed piece in the Washington Post last week, Robert Samuelson - he of the tremendously bushy mustache - attacks Washington think tanks for not proposing bold solutions to solving the impending baby boomer entitlement crisis. A boomer himself, Samuelson is trying to raise the alarm that the country is in a heap of trouble if we don't figure out how we're really going to pay for the boomer's health care and Social Security benefits:

The aging of America is not just a population change or, as a budget problem, an accounting exercise. It involves a profound transformation of the nature of government: Commitments to the older population are slowly overwhelming other public goals; the national government is becoming mainly an income-transfer mechanism from younger workers to older retirees.

Consider the outlook. From 2005 to 2030, the 65-and-over population will nearly double, to 71 million; its share of the population will rise to 20 percent from 12 percent. Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid -- programs that serve older people -- already exceed 40 percent of the $2.7 trillion federal budget. By 2030, their share could hit 75 percent of the present budget, projects the Congressional Budget Office.

75% of yearly government spending? Zowie.

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As I've said before, time to raise taxes. And, as I haven't mentioned before, but firmly believe, time to cut social security benefits. The retirement age needs to be raised to at least 68 (The Brookings Institute suggests 67). Also, social security and healthcare benefits should be doled out on an "as needed" basis - that is, while my grandmother needs her social security benefits, Warren Buffet does not. So the government should simply eliminate - or seriously curtail them - for those who don't have the financial need.

A whole bunch of think tanks - conservative and progressive - respond, some with ideas, some not (Note that the progressive think tanks have more concrete ideas in play than the conservatives do). Most of them blast the Bush tax cuts and that completely stupid Medicare prescription drug bill that the Republicans forced down our throats a few years ago.

Stupid baby boomers. We should never have put them in charge. By and large, they've sat by idly as the major crises their children and grandchildren will have to face have piled up - the greatest national debt in the history of the world, global warming, peak oil, unsustainable foreign energy dependence, and now, taking care of them as they dance obliviously into their twilight years.

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