*The Age of Austerity*

That is the new book by Thomas Byrne Edsall, here is my WaPo review.  Overall I thought his treatment was not deep enough, and that too frequently he substituted caricature for insight.  Here is one excerpt from my piece:

I wished for more discussion of the elderly. The two biggest government programs — Medicare and Social Security — are almost exclusively for them, with a significant chunk of Medicaid going to the elderly as well. By about 2030, America as a whole will have the age structure currently found in Florida. That means the elderly, who vote at above-average rates, are very likely to keep winning political battles. The real question about our fiscal future is not Republicans vs. Democrats but rather whether any coalition can limit benefits to older people. It is already unlikely that the Republicans will gut Medicare or Social Security or get very far in trying. The last major expansion of Medicare came under the Bush administration, and, despite the tough talk of Rep. Paul Ryan’s plan, the Republicans are unable to enact fundamental Medicare cost control because they are too dependent on the white elderly vote.

There is a Matt Yglesias review here.  Here is a WSJ review.


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