Robert Samuelson reminds us (as if!) that the way to tell when most politicians are lying is to check whether or not their lips are moving. When the candidates cite the old saw, "It’s for the children!" for example, you can bet dollars to donuts that it’s really for the geezers. Samuelson runs down the list of actual problems facing the nation and looks at the striking attempt (on both sides) to appeal to young voters with claims of concern for their futures. But when you discount the rhetoric and look at the actual proposals, no one is taking the real (and necessary) political risk of doing anything that could be characterized as desecrating the sacred cows of Medicare, Medicaid, and Social Security . . . to say nothing of retirement benefits promised to a huge class of aging government workers.
The insidious nature of this problem is that because the spending increases for the elderly occur gradually, the pressures on taxes and other government programs will also intensify gradually. A crucial moment to clarify the stakes and compel politicians to make choices probably won’t occur until it’s too late.Samuelson notes that this tendency is most striking in Obama--the candidate who now commands the closest thing to "rock star" status among the candidates with young voters. In a thread below, our friend, Dan, reminds us of the great line from P.J. O’Rourke, "Age and guile defeats youth and inexperience every time." Dan was speaking of Obama himself. But the same thing may be said of his youthful supporters who think they’re voting their interests with this guy.
Though Samuelson thinks the situation can only get worse before it gets better (and this may be a numbers game in his mind--aging boomers outnumbering younger folks by so much and younger folks aging and getting past the point where reform may help them much) I have to believe that there will be a tipping point--perhaps not in this election--where there will be an opportunity to make a serious and a popular appeal to growing anti-boomer sentiment . . . a sensible sentiment that many boomers I know, are only too happy to share. If I were a boomer, I think I would quickly adopt it if I didn’t already share it. Why? Well, numbers be damned. Let’s just say that it will be a very bad thing (i.e., not in the real interests of older people or the country in general) to put "the children" at war with the interests of their elders. It’s a harsh thing to say but it’s also true (and apply this on a larger scale) . . . your children will someday pick your nursing home. And if liberals have their way, your children are also going to have more influence on the question of whether or not to euthanize you!