Robert Samuelson suggests the Washington think tanks are not thinking about entitlement reform and the aging society. I can’t speak for the six particular think tanks he points to (Brookings, the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, and the Urban Institute on the left; and AEI, Cato, and Heritage on the right), though I do know all have done serious work on entitlement reform. And at the Ethics and Public Policy Center, where I work, we’ve also done a good bit on the specific aspect of the entitlement crisis Samuelson speaks of the most–the demographic component–including, among others, work by Jim Capretta and John Mueller on a range of questions from social security and the fertility dilemma to what we might learn from foreign pension reforms, to weathering the demographic winter, and a framework for entitlement reforms
Samuelson is right that not enough emphasis is given to the demographic component of our welfare state dilemma (and therefore to a path to entitlement reform that focuses on the strength of the American family). And maybe no one has yet suggested an idea he likes. But his notion that no one is working on it surely isn’t right.