“We’ve become used to the idea that the young — more progressive in their voting habits — are the future, and the rest of us had just better adapt,” writes Gerard Baker, The Wall Street Journal’s Editor at Large. He then proceeds to debunk this idea. In fact, Mr. Baker continues, “In political terms, the old are the future.”
Citing US Census Bureau statistics, he points out that, in the past few presidential elections, the 65-plus age group is the one showing the biggest increase in people voting. And, Mr. Baker writes, “they will be even more significant in the next several elections.” The numbers of voters in this 65-plus age group are increasing faster than in any other. Plus, these folks tend to register and vote in higher numbers than younger Americans.
Mr. Baker cites a Pew Research Center estimate that, in the 2020 election, 23 percent of voters will be over 65, “the highest proportion of the electorate of that age since 1970.”
We’ve got an aging population. Yet the student-loan-forgiveness, free college proposals coming out of the Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren campaigns seem designed to attract millennial voters. Senator Sanders says he’ll pay for his plan with a financial transactions tax on the folks he calls “Wall Street speculators.” Senator Warren will impose a “wealth tax.”
When wealth taxes become insufficient to pay for these middle-class welfare programs — and they will — the cost will become part of the national debt owed by — guess who? — younger Americans, future generations.
We haven’t heard any talk among the presidential hopefuls about reforming Social Security or Medicare, entitlements which are growing on autopilot as the numbers of seniors who will draw upon them skyrockets.
Make no mistake. Baby boomers will get their retirement benefits. Student debt forgiveness may come. And free college. But none of this will be free. Millennials and generations to follow: please understand, you will pick up the tab.