UTAH (ABC4) – Continuing his comments on the national government’s budget woes, Mitt Romney suggests reducing the extent of benefits younger US citizens will receive once they reach retirement age.
In doing so, Romney committed what many consider to be a political taboo: threatening national retirement programs that have benefitted many Americans since FDR’s new deal. These programs have historically received such high levels of bipartisan support that challenging them has been extremely dangerous for politicians’ reelection nationwide.
Despite the popularity of federal retirement benefits, many politicians and analysis have acknowledged that they are contributing to the national debt crisis. These programs have historically been and continue to be a large chunk of the federal budget. Declining US birth rates mean that fewer and fewer workers are creating tax revenue to fund retirement programs, despite more populous generations such as baby boomers now entering retirement. This makes the very funding model of federal retirement benefits—which is in many ways predicated on the assumption of US birth rates steadily increasing—unsustainable.
This problem realistically has two solutions, both of which are extremely politically unpopular. In order to balance the federal retirement budget, the national government would either have to increase revenue by increasing taxes nationwide, or, as Sen. Mitt Romney suggested, reduce retirement benefits. Sen. Romney suggested the latter option: reducing future benefits for America’s current young people.
Sen. Romney couched this suggestion by suggesting that “for younger people coming along, we got to be able to find a way to balance these programs or we’re gonna find ourselves in a heap of trouble.”
While indeed a risky move for Sen. Romney to make, he may have been emboldened by current political analysis that suggests that he has a safe seat in this year’s Utah midterm election. His current political safety may be the opportune moment to make otherwise risky political moves.
It remains unclear, however, in the case that Congress follows through with Sen. Romney’s suggestion, if young American’s will continue to pay tax revenue to programs that will not benefit them when they reach retirement age.