The Magazine

Generation Ryan

The first post-boomer nominee.

Sep 3, 2012, Vol. 17, No. 47 • By BYRON YORK
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In Danville, both the young candidate and the old candidate will try to convince voters 55 and older that they don’t have anything to worry about personally and voters 54 and younger that they do. But in the end, it’s possible that the generational differences over entitlements won’t really be resolved until the older generation goes away. 

In early April 2011, as Ryan prepared to unveil his first budget proposal, which included the Medicare premium support plan, he met with a small group of journalists at a Washington restaurant. He laid out the plan in a sharp, succinct presentation, then took questions. After a lot of discussion, a reporter asked when the plan would balance the federal budget. Ryan said that would take many years, until the late 2030s. The reporter then wondered whether the Ryan plan would, in essence, balance the budget only after a large number of the baby boomers were dead. Ryan would never say such a thing, but he didn’t disagree.

Mitt Romney didn’t choose Paul Ryan simply because of his age. But the first Gen Xer on a presidential ticket is raising generational issues that are likely to be with us as long as the boomers are on the scene.

Byron York is chief political correspondent at the Washington Examiner.

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