The Retirement Policy Solution At The Top of My New Year’s Resolutions Is Not What You Think It Is

Or maybe you have guessed it: we need an end to partisan rancor.

We can’t solve Social Security.  We can’t solve public pension underfunding/overpromising.  We can’t solve multi-employer (in)solvency.  Medicare.  Long-term care.  We can’t solve the overall issue of ensuring that Americans have adequate funds in retirement in a manner that’s fiscally responsible and respectful of those Americans’ right to make their own decisions.

We can’t do any of this in our current state of political division, in which rather than working together, people are more eager to score points by implementing their uncompromising agenda, by waiting until they control all branches of government rather than making compromises with the other side.

Here’s Megan McArdle, writing in the Washington Post late in November:

[A]s the parties have become more ideological, control of Congress has begun shifting more often. In postwar decades during which Democrats controlled the House, both parties had reason to make what deals they could: Democrats because they’d be held responsible for inaction, and Republicans because they saw no hope of getting anything done any other way.

 But now both parties have every reason to wait two years and see if their bargaining position improves. Particularly since more-ideological parties mean their respective bases will regard any compromise as less an unpleasant political necessity than a desecration of sacred principle.

And we can say that this is all the fault of the leaders of one party or the other, or of nefarious but impersonal forces, the result of our Internet age, or other explanations that leave the ordinary citizenry blameless.

But, as much as we can quite reasonably complain that Facebook and Twitter and so on use our human tendency towards anger and outrage to their benefit, and any individual writer and media company profits from rage-driven clicks, it’s still on us, as individuals, to consciously change our behavior.

So, Republicans:  not every Democratic proposal is aimed at turning us into another Venezuela.

Employees of the University Hospital queue to receive boxes with basic goods provided by the government program ‘CLAP’ (Local Committees for Supply and Production), outside the hospital, in Caracas on June 26, 2018. – Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro’s socialist government is in the midst of an ever-deepening crisis with food and medicine in short supply. (Photo by Federico PARRA / AFP) (Photo credit should read FEDERICO PARRA/AFP/Getty Images)Getty

And, Democrats:  not every Republican proposal strives to leave the masses starving and in rags so that the top 1% can roll around in their gold coins like Scrooge McDuck.

DISNEY CHANNEL PRESENTS THE 2017 RADIO DISNEY MUSIC AWARDS – To celebrate the highly-anticipated summer premiere of Disney XD’s all-new ‘DuckTales,’ Disney has created a life-size version of Scrooge McDuck’s legendary Money Bin – complete with 30,000 plastic pucks shaped like gold coins, which made its public debut at the 2017 Radio Disney Music Awards (RDMA), music’s biggest event for families on SATURDAY, APRIL 29 at the Microsoft Theater in Los Angeles. The Money Bin returns will also be at D23 Expo 2017, The Ultimate Disney Fan Event, JULY 14-16 in Anaheim. (Image Group LA/Disney Channel via Getty Images) DUCKTALES MONEY BINGetty

Pundits propose actions that the government could or should take that’s intended to mitigate partisanship or the forces which magnify it, by punishing Facebook, for example, or redistricting reform.  But the answer isn’t really more legislation.

Solutions to the Social Security Trust Fund depletion will require some combination of benefit cuts and tax hikes, or (yes, my preference) a re-imagining of the way the system functions altogether.  Solutions to the multi-employer pension plan solvency crisis will require some combination of benefit cuts and government cash infusions.  Solutions to state and local pension plan underfunding will be no more pleasant.  No one should be promising any solutions that are pain-free, with some alchemy or another making everyone happy.  No reform legislation can succeed if that’s achieved as a result of one party or another achieving control of Congress and the presidency, and creating something partisan with so little support that the other party battles against it over and over again, rather than working together.  And no American should be making these demands of their legislators.

And, finally, as we reach the end of 2018, I’d like to extend my thanks to readers who have shared their comments on my personal website, and wish all Forbes readers best wishes in the new year.


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