Posted by | April 7, 2011 14:53 | Filed under: Top Stories

by Stuart Shapiro

First let me say that Medicare is in dire need of reform.  Representative Paul Ryan’s plan for reform, however, has some serious flaws, the most serious of which is pointed out by David Leonhardt:

It asks for a whole lot of sacrifice from everyone under the age of 55 and little from everyone 55 and over. Representative Paul Ryan, the Wisconsin Republican who wrote the plan, calls the budget deficit an “existential threat” to the United States. Then he absolves more than one-third of all adults from responsibility in dealing with that threat.

It is not a coincidence that those above 55 are not only the backbone of the Tea Party but also the most secure votes for the Republican Party.  Not only that but there are important demographic differences between older folks and younger ones according to new Census data.

The single largest increase was among Hispanics, whose birthrates are far above those of non-Hispanic whites, largely because the white population is aging and proportionally has fewer women in their child-bearing years. The median age of whites is 41, compared with 27 for Hispanics, the report said.

As a result, America’s future will include a far more diverse young population, and a largely white older generation.

This sets up a volatile dynamic for this debate.  This younger diverse population is being asked to sacrifice for the older white one.  Investing in education and infrastructure asks the older white population to sacrifice for the younger diverse one.  This is the choice before us in the months ahead.

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Copyright 2011 Liberaland
By: Stuart Shapiro

Stuart is a professor and the Director of the Public Policy
program at the Bloustein School of Planning and Public Policy at Rutgers
University. He teaches economics and cost-benefit analysis and studies
regulation in the United States at both the federal and state levels.
Prior to coming to Rutgers, Stuart worked for five years at the Office
of Management and Budget in Washington under Presidents Clinton and
George W. Bush.