I’ve been complaining about this for a while, so I’m very heartened to see David Leonhardt speak out against the ridiculous idea that nobody over the age of 55 should engage in any of the “shared sacrifice” that we’re told the non-rich need to make:
Yet there is at least one big way in which the plan isn’t daring at all. 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.
This decision doesn’t make him unique in Washington. There is nearly a bipartisan consensus that any cuts to Medicare and Social Security should spare the baby boomers and the elderly. And, certainly, retirees or people on the verge of retirement shouldn’t have their benefits changed radically. But the consensus, like Mr. Ryan’s plan, goes too far.
Part of the way I would put this is that if you have a plan to reduce Medicare costs that’s actually credible and workable, there should be no bar to beginning to implement it right away. The total scale of the impact of measures to reduce the growth in health care costs would be initially modest but the implementation of ideas like increasing the inflow of foreign doctors, allowing less-trained personnel to perform more medical tasks, reforming how we finance pharmaceutical research, and imposing cost-effectiveness criteria on publicly financed treatments should begin as soon as possible. The Affordable Care Act did more punting on this kind of thing than is ideal, and repealing all those ideas to then say that in the future the free market fairy will generate magical savings is both ridiculous and unfair.