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Optimism Sighting


Ross Douthat thinks that as the cost of Social Security and Medicare goes up, conservatives will be able to force means-testing on both programs. The alternative, tax increases, will be too unpopular.

Maybe. But remember that as the population ages, the ratio of people who get benefits to people who pay for them will increase, which would seem to indicate that the likelihood of spending cuts would go down and that of tax increases would go up. Also, some increase in average rates of taxation will happen on autopilot, thanks to: the expiration of the Bush tax cuts, the continuation of the AMT, and the regular income tax system’s failure to index tax brackets for real wage growth.


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