Tuesday, March 1, 2011

WSJ.com - Let's Begin Obama's 'Conversation' on Entitlements

WSJ.com - Opinion: Let's Begin Obama's 'Conversation' on Entitlements


Nobody should be surprised that public-sector workers in Wisconsin and elsewhere are fighting to preserve every penny of their promised benefits.

Nobody should be surprised that state governors—and it doesn't matter which party—are trying to trim those privileges and benefits.

This fight was penciled in long ago, when politicians and union leaders made the strategic decision to negotiate benefits without negotiating for the funding to make good on them. The mock shock and horror is all the more laughable given that events in Wisconsin are a perfect microcosm of the battle that every sentient American knows, and has known for a generation, awaits Medicare and Social Security.

Medicare is the real killer. An average couple retiring last year can look forward to consuming Medicare benefits with a present value of $343,000, having paid Medicare taxes with a present value of $109,000.

Moving toward a system of real savings, in which payroll taxes would flow into some version of personal accounts controlled by the worker, would bring a big improvement to incentives. We could expect a sizeable growth dividend to help finance the transition.

By "finance the transition," of course, we mean today's workers having to reach into their own pockets twice, paying for their own retirement while also making up for the saving their parents and grandparents didn't do. When people talk about generational injustice, this is what they mean.




No comments: