Ex-NY Times Editor Exhorts Baby Boomers, Praises GOP for Having Plan on Entitlements Issue

Monday, 30 Jul 2012 12:05 PM

By Patrick Hobin

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Writing in an op-ed column Sunday, the former executive editor of the New York Times exhorted fellow baby boomers to fix the entitlement problem that his generation helped create and praised Republicans for at least having a plan to do so.

Bill Keller wrote in a column headlined “The Entitled Generation” that baby boomers should make fixing entitlements such as Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid their cause.

“We have resisted any move to fix the system. We should make a sensible reform of entitlements our generation’s cause. We should stiffen the spines of our politicians, and push lobby groups like AARP to climb out of the bunker and lead. (And, by the way, we should resist the boomer temptation to take every cent of the reform from the pockets of our kids.) We should keep the heat on Congress and the president to double down on the cost-saving provisions in Obamacare.”

Keller, Times executive editor until September and now a columnist, pointed out that in 1962, baby boomers “were laying down the foundations of prosperity. About 32 cents of every federal dollar, excluding interest payments, was spent on investments, only 14 percent on entitlements.”

Now, he said, “we spend less than 15 cents on investment and 46 cents on entitlements. And it gets worse. By 2030, when the last of us boomers have surged onto the Social Security rolls, entitlements will consume 61 cents of every federal dollar, starving our already neglected investment and leaving us, in the words of the study, with ‘a less-skilled workforce, lower rates of job creation, and an infrastructure unfit for a 21st century economy.’”

The study Keller cited is by Third Way, the centrist Democratic think tank.

In paying for entitlements, Keller argued “traditional liberal alternatives — raise taxes on the well-to-do, cut military spending — are not nearly enough by themselves. The arithmetic simply doesn’t work, unless we face the fact that entitlements are a bargain we can’t afford to keep, not in full.”

Keller said Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan’s plan would “would cut the cost of entitlements largely by moving toward privatization: personal investment accounts for Social Security, vouchers for Medicare.”

“At least the Republicans have a plan. The Democrats generally recoil from the subject of entitlements,” Keller wrote, before concluding, “We may not be the greatest generation, but we are the largest — and we vote. We throw our weight around. What if we threw some of it in the right direction?”

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