With Obama safely re-elected…we’re now beginning to hear the Democratic take on the coming demographic challenge. Today’s Baer-Liebman Op-Ed highlights the “baby boom bump,” but takes the polar opposite of a conservative approach to it. For Baer and Liebman, massive baby-boom retirements mean that it’s time to face the facts and accept a far larger government than we’ve ever seen before. They also call for “higher revenues,” along with “slower growth in our social insurance programs.”
So the Times now sets the stage for the real economic debate of the future. Soon both Democrats and Republicans will highlight the massive baby-boom retirements to make their respective points. Voters will no longer be clueless about the fast-closing fiscal-demographic disaster, but will soon be asked to choose between two radically different ways of dealing with it. Either reform entitlements in conformity with free-market principles and avoid massive tax increases (thereby reducing benefits), or vastly expand the welfare state and tax the middle-class to pay for it, using government rationing for such cost-control as is possible.
Conservatives have known this was the choice all along. With Obama now safely re-elected, however, the Democrats are owning up to it as well.
Ever observant, Kurtz notes that the picture above the Baer-Liebman column suggests that illustrator Niv Bavarsky hasn’t quite gotten with the program: “He’s correctly depicted the implications of the Op-Ed’s argument, but in a way that bucks up the conservative case.” Hey, somebody get me redraw!