But I don't think this will happen because taxes are going to rise very gradually and because the young will expect to get their share when they turn 65. Also, as the government takes over all aspects of care for the elderly, their children are relieved of personal responsibility. The Medicare drug bill that has just passed Congress, for example, will be a kind of tax cut for those who would otherwise have had to pay for their parents' prescription drugs. Indeed, the Roosevelt administration originally sold Social Security to the young exactly this way.
I also think it is possible to minimize the burden on future generations by instituting policies that will sustain a high level of economic growth. This is where I really part way with Democrats, since they just don't understand economics at all, in my view. They are obsessed with envy and always want to raise taxes on the "rich." But these taxes eventually end up on the working class because they shrink the capital stock and diminish entrepreneurship, which slows real economic growth and wages. In the end, the cost of the Democrats' "soak the rich" policies is just too high.
Moreover, Democrats have absurd faith in government to fix things, no matter how much experience shows that its intervention usually makes things worse. Perhaps the stupidest proposal of the entire campaign so far is that by Howard Dean, the leading Democratic candidate, to re-regulate the American economy if elected. Not only is this dumb substantively, but he threw away any hope of getting votes from libertarians sympathetic to his views on foreign policy and civil liberties.
Still, it is important for America to have a strong Democratic Party in order to keep Republicans honest and provide competition for ideas. When Democrats don't provide effective opposition, it allows Republicans to get away with things they know they shouldn't be doing, like enacting huge new entitlement programs, imposing protectionist trade policies and raiding the Treasury for giveaways to Republican constituencies. I only wish that Democratic opposition to the drug bill had been more effective, so as to kill this monstrosity in its crib. But they did a better job on the pork-laden energy bill and helped deep-six that abomination, for which I am grateful.
Unfortunately, I don't see Democrats getting their act together next year to regain either the White House or Congress. As a Republican, I am sorry to see that because my party needs them in order to avoid corrupting itself.
Bruce Bartlett is a former senior fellow with the National Center for Policy Analysis of Dallas, Texas. Bartlett is a prolific author, having published over 900 articles in national publications, and prominent magazines and published four books, including Reaganomics: Supply-Side Economics in Action.
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