Friday, June 20, 2008

Millennial Vision

As a card-carrying Baby Boomer, who like so many in my generation has made a fetish out of staying young of heart, I admit to having viewed with skepticism claims by my good friend Neil Howe that today's rising generation, the Millennials, is somehow of a different cut. After all, we Boomers in our time redefined youth not just as an age group, but as a fiercely independent attitude informed by distrust of our parents' and grandparents' political agendas. We were determined to imprint our vision of the future on an America that still hadn't gotten it right in so many ways. And in this regard, the Youth Entitlement Summit (YES) was a real eye-opener.

Our ideologically balanced panel of young leaders was asked to take a hard look at some of the most intractable political issues of our time. And they emerged with a remarkable consensus-framework for action. Where I had expected strong disagreement, I found instead the courage to agree. To be sure, Millennials are every bit as independent as we were at a similar age. But if YES was a fair representation of this generation's capacity for constructive leadership, America is in for a very different -- and, I would say, more optimistic -- future than many of us had imagined.

Skeptics and believers alike should visit this link to C-SPAN's coverage of the remarkable discussion that took place in our final meeting.

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Great Summit

The Youth Entitlement Summit on June 16-17 was an absolutely amazing experience. I very much appreciated the opportunity to hear from policy experts of a vareity of points of view and discuss and debate the many issues related to refomring social security, healthcare and the federal budget with engaged young people from diverse ideological and partisan backgrounds. I think in many ways political posturing has been treated as of greater importance than governing and addressing critical issues facing our country. As an independant, I was impressed with a group of panelists from across the ideological spectrum being able to discuss policy in a meaningful way without name calling, obfuscation, or meaningless rhetoric.

I'm excited to continue our discussions and build on what we started over the last few days. It is incredibly important that we not be afraid to engaged those who may, or do, disagree with us and attempt to find some common ground or opportunity for compromise, there is too much at stake. I think we should find way to keep our own discusions going, while at the same time take the message out to others about the universally ackowledged situation with entitlement programs and the federal budget. These, and other issues, are beyond the ability of either party to solve on their own.

Friday, June 6, 2008

summary of history of Social Security

Here is a short (15 page) history of the Social Security Program (from the social security administration) which I think has some worthwhile background info. It's at:

I think it is interesting that two of the biggest expansions of the program, which are partially driving the solvency concerns, were passed as recently as the 1970's: a 20% increase in benefits and making the cost of living adjustments automatic and indexed to the cpi for wages. Now certainly that's 30+ years ago, which represents the working life of many people. However, it diminishes the arguments of opponents to reform that SS has always been there for retirees since FDR and now any suggested reforms are changing the deal. In fact, the program has evolved/changed significantly over the years.

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

How to be a Budget Hero

The folks over at American Public Media, which is also responsible for the public radio show "Marketplace," have introduced a fun online game where you can adjust spending priorities to achieve various federal budget and policy goals while beating the national debt. It's all based on CBO data and allows you to project various scenarios 10 to 50 years in the future, which is a timeframe I think we all wish our legislators would adopt.

The Social Security reform options include: cutting benefits, raising the minimum age, cutting benefits for the wealthy only, and partial privatization. Elsewhere on the page, you can also raise taxes.

If only it were this easy!

Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Short Soc. Security article with nice summary

This is a few years old, but I think it's got some good discussion of issues in the social security debate:

In the terms we discussed yesterday, this would be the 30,000 feet view, I suppose.

Friday, April 25, 2008

Meeting the Generational Challenge

We talk a lot these days about global warming and the war in Iraq, but it remains that, by far, the greatest threat to future living standards lies with a long-neglected, but much-anticipated development: the retirement wave that began just this year, as the first baby boomers claimed Social Security. Over the next 19 years, boomers will be joining the retirement rolls at an average of 11,000 a day. Because most haven't saved very much, and because health costs have been, and are expected to continue rising much faster than wages or Social Security cost-of-living adjustments, boomers stand to be more dependent on those who follow than any generation before them. Unless our leaders develop the foresight and courage to address this generational challenge, today's twenty-somethings, who are now just entering the workforce, will face a future of stagnant or declining living standards. Their children could do even worse.

The great tragedy of our democracy is that young people, who have the greatest stake in policies designed to reflect society's long-range interests, tend to have the shortest-term political horizons. That has to change. Hopefully that change begins right now, with YES.

Welcome to the YES Blog!

This is the official blog for the Youth Entitlement Summit, to be held June 16-17, 2008, in Washington, D.C.