Ten ways to fix the budget

2. Favor spending cuts over tax increases. Tax increases over the next 15 to 20 years could easily reach 25 to 50 percent to cover the costs of (a) the doubling of the 65-and-over population from 2000 to 2030, (b) spiraling health costs, and (c) the continuation of other programs at recent levels of national income. These staggering tax increases are too burdensome. They might hobble the economy and would be unfair to younger workers.

3. Cut Social Security, Medicare and other retiree programs. They represent half of non-interest federal spending. Exempting them would require gutting other programs or enacting huge tax increases. We live longer; eligibility ages should be higher. Wealthier retirees can afford steeper Medicare fees and lower Social Security checks. The Census Bureau classifies about 30 percent of the 65-plus population as “high income” (incomes at least four times the poverty line). In 2008, the median net worth of married elderly couples was $385,000.

4. Don’t spare current retirees or baby boomers. People don’t lose the capacity — or moral obligation — to change just by turning 65. They should bear some of the burden.