Are Wealthy Baby Boomers Trashing the Country on Their Way Out the Door?

Are Wealthy Baby Boomers Trashing the Country on Their Way Out the Door?

Kevin Lamarque

There are many ways to describe the Republican tax bill — a much-needed boost for a sluggish economy, a hastily written mystery machine that will have countless unintended consequences, a confounding vehicle for increasing the national debt — but one aspect of the legislation has received relatively little attention: the plan’s significant generational effects.

Ronald Brownstein argues in The Atlantic that the winners and losers in the bill form a generational divide, with wealthy Baby Boomers clearly coming out on top. Boomers as a whole have more money than the groups coming behind them, and the tax bill showers additional benefits on them, Brownstein writes: “Overall, the tax bills reward wealth, and wealth accumulates with age: Households headed by people between 55 and 64 years old have an average net worth that’s 15 times that of households headed by people younger than 35, the data show.”

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At the same time, younger citizens will end up bearing most of the costs of the tax bill. Federal spending on programs that benefit future generations, such as education and research, are already near record lows, Brownstein writes, and the tax bill’s $1.5 trillion cost will increase pressure to cut social spending even further. And younger people will end up paying the interest on all that added debt, a bill which will likely continue to rise long after the Boomers are gone.

The end result, according to Brownstein, is an increase in “generational inequity,” in which an economically stressed (and more ethnically diverse) younger generation suffers an “11th hour raid” by wealthy Boomers out to seize all the goodies they can as they shuffle off the historical stage.