Sen. Michael Bennet on Michael Kinsley's Atlantic Story

By Jeffrey Goldberg

Sen. Michael Bennet (D.-Goldblog), who also represents the State of Colorado (and who is, by the way, the brother of Goldblog's editor) spoke yesterday at Third Way, mainly about the economy, but also about his race against the Tea Party candidate, Ken Buck. (Yes, I'm aware that Buck is also the Republican Party nominee, but I think of him mainly as a Tea Party guy. This is in part because I am highly biased in Bennet's favor, and in part because Buck is actually a Tea Party sort of guy.) 

In any case, in the course of Bennet's discussion of the economy, and jobs creation, and fiscal probity, he brought up Michael Kinsley's new Atlantic cover story about how Baby Boomers bite. Bennet believes, correctly, I think, that the political class is punting on its fiscal responsibilities, with dire consequences for the next generations. One of the reasons I would vote for Michael if I lived in Colorado is that he works for compassionate government and fiscal discipline at the same time, and regularly comes up with solid, non-partisan solutions about how to combine these two superficially-incompatible ideas. This is part of what he said:

The Atlantic's got a cover story this month by Michael Kinsley about the baby boomer generation. I was born in 1964. That was the last year of the baby boomer generation, Michael says maybe it was, maybe it wasn't, but I like to think it was. 1964. In my view there's not a group of people in the history of the planet that were given more opportunity than we were given. And our job is to not be the first generation of Americans to not leave less opportunity for our kids and our grandkids...

We've got an operating budget that is 17 percent non-defense discretionary spending, 18 percent defense spending, 65 percent Medicare, Medicaid, Social Security, and interest on the debt. You have a bunch of unfunded liabilities that look like this. You got a bunch of policy suggestions about how we could manage to get out of this, you could come to agreement at the end of the day. I think. And (legislators) would leave (Washington) feeling patriotic and feeling like they did something important for their kids. This town might be incapable of dealing with that. And healthcare is the perfect analogy because at the centerpiece of that healthcare debate was a fairly straightforward question, which is can we change the healthcare incentive structure to move away from the fee for service system into one that's more outcomes based, more performance based?"

This article available online at:

http://www.theatlantic.com/business/archive/2010/09/sen-michael-bennet-on-michael-kinsleys-atlantic-story/63150/