WILL AMERICA GROW UP BEFORE IT GROWS OLD? by Peter G. Peterson

WILL AMERICA GROW UP BEFORE IT GROWS OLD?

How the Social Security Crisis Threatens You, Your Family and Your Country
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KIRKUS REVIEW

 An authoritative and alarming audit of the potentially bleak financial future faced by the 76 million Americans born between 1946 and 1964--who look forward to comfortable retirements. A former Commerce secretary turned investment banker and a member of the Bipartisan Commission on Entitlement and Tax Reform, Peterson has strong feelings about his subject, as well as a firm grasp on it. He demonstrates that insufficient resources exist to cover the retirement of Boomers (who will begin leaving the workforce in about 15 years). He goes on to show that, on any rational bookkeeping basis, Medicare and Social Security are ``massively insolvent.'' Doubling back, the author reviews just how the US became a thrift-deficient, consumption-minded, deficit- burdened, and entitlement-oriented society in which the relatively affluent collect appreciably more federal benefits than the genuinely impoverished. Having blamed the electorate and Congress in approximately equal measure for this parlous state, and arguing that in economic terms the troubles created by the graying of America could dwarf all other serious problems, Peterson offers a multipoint reform program whose top priority would be balancing the federal budget by 2002. His list of obligatory changes includes a thorough makeover of entitlements, complete with a schedule of phased-in sacrifices to be shared by all recipients of government largesse. Also covered are such possibilities as reducing benefits for the affluent (i.e., households with annual incomes exceeding $40,000); advancing the eligibility age for FICA payouts; establishing a system of personal, privately managed, and portable pension plans funded in part with dollars now earmarked for Social Security; and a tax policy that would impose levies on consumption rather than income. A persuasively stated case for addressing a consequential issue that's overdue for debate and action. (Author tour)

Pub Date: Oct. 14th, 1996
ISBN: 0-679-45256-7
Page count: 256pp
Publisher: Random House
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15th, 1996




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