The Coming Generational Storm: What You Need to Know about America’s Economic Future

author: Laurence J. Kotlikoff, Department of Economics, Boston University
published: July 18, 2011,   recorded: April 2004,   views: 261
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A word of advice to baby boomers: be very kind to your children. They will quite likely be paying a steep price for your happy golden years. Laurence Kotlikoff says the future is dark indeed for the Social Security system. The fiscal gap between what the federal government expects to take in and what it pays out is so big that the Treasury Department had to censor the number in the federal budget. Kotlikoff’s current figure: $51 trillion. Today’s payouts to retirees for Social Security and Medicare/Medicaid have already broken the bank, and future expenditures will take us right into an economic catastrophe, says Kotlikoff. Why? Because today there are 33 million people over 65 receiving an average annual Social Security payment of $23k -- but in four years there will be 77 million seniors collecting. The equation involves demographics and money: a predominantly old population with extended lifespan requires benefits that far exceed the capacity of young workers to pay for them. And please don’t mention the spiraling costs of health care. Kotlikoff blasts the Bush and Clinton administrations for negligence and cover-ups, and says he doesn’t “see a way out of our fiscal system melting down short of doing something immediately.” His starting point for a bailout: “Pay off what you owe with a federal retail sales tax.”

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