It's one of the toughest and most divisive issues facing the American people. And how we respond will have a profound impact on future generations. Yet many elected officials refuse to even talk about it. President Bush proposed a plan to deal with the issue but couldn't even get members of his own party to go along. Congress blew its shot at reform in a flurry of distortions, sound bites and fear-mongering. And most of the presidential candidates won't go anywhere near the subject, perhaps sensing that it could cost them votes.
The issue, of course, is Social Security reform. And you probably thought I was talking about immigration.
ut if the issue isn't resolved, guess who'll foot the bill? Boomers' kids and grandkids.
Social Security is a huge transfer of wealth where every generation pays for the one before it. Seventy-eight million Baby Boomers had no problem paying the benefits that went to the World War II generation because, well, there are 78 million of them. Imagine the burden on younger workers - those who are now in their teens, 20s and 30s - who are expected to hold up their end of the bargain and keep millions of the boomers in a comfy retirement.
In 1946, the cost of supporting one retiree was spread among 42 workers. Now, we're rapidly approaching the point where the number of workers who support each retiree will be down to two. And, of course, that means more strain on those workers in the form of higher taxes.
Front-runners Rudy Giuliani and Hillary Clinton have run away from the issue and refuse to lay out specific plans. They speak only in generalities, perhaps because they fear incurring the wrath of AARP, the lobby that advocates for senior citizens and resists any tinkering with Social Security.
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