Karl Marx and the Obama campaign believe that personal economic benefit drives the politics of the huddled masses; the proletariat just need to be educated by the Party about how the State can eliminate their exploitation by the 1%. Let's consider how this "economic self interest" narrative applies to today's kids. (Anybody under 30 is a kid in my world.)
1. Jobs. As bad as the headline 8.2% national unemployment rate is, for those age 20 to 24 the Bureau of Labor Statistics pegs the number at about 40%. For minorities it is approaching 50%. Advantage Romney.
2. Healthcare. Obamacare cuts both ways. For kids who haven't broken out of the nest, insurers must offer coverage under their parents policies up to age 26; on the other hand, the individual mandate is aimed at young workers who choose to prioritize other expenses. Politically a draw.
3. Housing. Inflation adjusted prices continue to fall from their 2006 peak and are now about where they were in 1990. The second component of affordability is well in hand, with 30 year mortgages under 4%. For those with a job these are the best of times. Advantage Obama.
4. Debt. There's the killer. A baby born today has $50,000 of direct federal debt. Unfunded federal liabilities - including Social Security and Medicare - exceed $60 trillion, $520,000 per household, and that doesn't include state and local government pensions. My head is spinning. Advantage Romney.
More on the minds of kids is the increasing cost of college and student loans. Tuitions have gone up as a result of decreased government subsidies and lower returns on endowements (among other things) at a time where the lousy job market is keeping more students in school. Obama has seized the political high ground by advocating reduced interest rates while the Republicans have predictably demanded that spending be contained. Advantage Obama.
And for you Baby Boomers who hope that you can run out the clock to a comfortable retirement before the check comes due, today's kids will have a choice about how to respond to this generational larceny:
- Door Number 1. Suck it up for grandma. Index Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, and government worker pensions to inflation, and pay the interest on the debt. Its OK if there's nothing left for defense, education, or social services. We owe it to the Boomers to honor our obligations; after all, we'll be there some day.
- Door Number 2. Look to the future. Let inflation balance the books of the past by wiping out the value of bonds and pensions as Social Security and Medicare go bankrupt. Focus spending instead on education, research and development, and infrastructure. If we owe grandma a $50,000 pension, let's pay it in drachmas.
While Romney supporters would like to think that the jobs and national debt arguments would sway young voters, Obama maintains a 20% lead - down from the 30% margin he enjoyed over John McCain, but substantial never-the-less. Contrary to the common perception, the 18 to 29 vote represents about 18% of the total, down from the low 20s three decades ago. Apparently Door Number 2 looks pretty good if you are under 30 years old, if you care.
This week's video is an astounding Huffington Post video rebuttal of recent absurd Obama campaign claims. Perhaps they are trying to become legitimate reporters.
And a bonus Weekly Standard article and video of Mitt Romney's response to the Supreme Court Obamacare decision as well as Erick Erickson's thoughtful perspective on the decision. It will take me a week to get up off of the floor.
bill bowen - 6/29/12