The urgency of a growth agenda is strengthened by the recognition that the United States' social insurance system was designed for the pre-1973 rapid rather than the post-1973 slow pace of growth.Without faster long-term economic growth America's social insurance system as we know it is unlikely to survive the next generation. Thus there is a sense in which the stakes at risk in the task of finding policies to spur American economic growth are larger for the left than for the right half of the political spectrum. All have an interest in faster economic growth: faster growth empowers the American people to better achieve their ends whether their ends are sitting on beaches sunning themselves, raising their children, protecting endangered species, or increasing their level of education.
But in the absence of faster economic growth than has been seen in the past two decades, the future of the social insurance state is easy to read: Medicare and Social Security devour the rest of the Great Society and the New Deal over the course of the next generation. Two generations hence Medicare and Social Security run up against their own budget constraints, and destroy themselves.