INDIANAPOLIS | The future of America depends on "millennials" — people born after 1980 — working together to undo the damage wrought by baby boomers on the nation's economy, finances and foreign policy, according to a new book by Schererville native Pete Seat.
Seat's "The War on Millennials," released Tuesday, is merciless in placing blame, or "airing grievances" as he calls it, on the baby boom generation born between 1946 and 1964 for nearly all that ails America, from high unemployment to the national debt.
He finds boomers, after spending beyond the country's means for decades, are poised to more or less finish the nation off by draining Social Security and Medicare on their way to the grave.
"In the end, the bills will not be piled up on their desks," Seat writes. "Their inaction will require us — and perhaps even generations beyond — to spend our lives paying for their excess. Is that right? Do they feel guilty about it? They should."
Seat demands boomers currently in power, from President Barack Obama to most of Congress, set aside partisanship, ignore the "political mercenaries" creating sideshows that distract from real solutions and back away from divisive fights over social issues to focus instead and immediately on the tweaking and modernizing necessary to save Social Security, Medicare and the nation for future generations.
"There are far too many addicted to the shouting matches we call debate. If we all hate each other, how do we get anything done?" Seat asks. "That doesn't mean rubber stamping something you may be adamantly opposed to, it means accepting that the other side may have an idea or two on how to fix a problem and then saying, 'This is interesting, but how about we take that piece and try adding this?' rather than starting off with, 'No, but...'"
At the same time, Seat insists members of his millennial generation (he's 30) need to get off the couches in their parents' basements and get engaged in politics beyond simply clicking Facebook's "Like" button on an electronic petition that policymakers are destined to ignore.
"Far too many of us remain blissfully ignorant to the future suffering we will endure at the hands of the baby boomer generation," Seat writes. "If Social Security and Medicare are on shaky fiscal footing today, what makes anyone, especially us young whipper snappers, think either will be magically resolved tomorrow without any real changes?"
The changes Seat recommends, however, are straight out of the platforms and policy stances of two of Seat's former employers — President George W. Bush and the Indiana Republican Party.
Namely, turn Social Security into private investment accounts and replace Medicare with government-subsidized vouchers for seniors to purchase private health insurance.
Seat likens those ideas to the "innovative" 2006 decision by Gov. Mitch Daniels to lease the Indiana Toll Road to a private company for 75 years in exchange for $3.8 billion. That's allowed Indiana to catch up on long-delayed infrastructure projects and plan for the future.
But he fails to mention his generation (and two more after that) will be paying high tolls for that boomer-crafted deal long after the roads Daniels built with the upfront money have crumbled.
Similarly, he says Social Security and Medicare must continue as is for people over age 55 because change is politically impossible otherwise, once again sticking millennials with the tab.
In the end, Seat remains optimistic the challenges facing the United States can be met and overcome, so long as Americans are willing to put aside selfish interests and partisanship to focus on the hard decisions necessary to make the nation all it can be.
"There's too much at stake to act like everything is A-OK in the USA," he says.