Can Romney Win Young Voters?

NPR has a story on Mitt Romney’s hopes to win back some of the youth vote that went so heavily for Barack Obama in 2008, and today’s Diane Rehm show is looking at the politics of the generation gap.

I wrote about the youth vote earlier this month for the Huffington Post. I argued that Obama’s Bush-retread policies on Afghanistan, Iraq, and the war on drugs would reduce his appeal to young voters. And most importantly, I said:

Debt. And finally, perhaps the longest-term impact President Obama will have on today’s young people. The national debt has increased by $5 trillion, about 50 percent, during Obama’s 3-1/2 years in office. As a percentage of GDP, it’s the highest since World War II. The average amount of student loan debt is $25,000, but each American owes about $45,000 for the national debt.

Worse, the unfunded liabilities of Social Security, Medicare and other entitlements programs are estimated anywhere from $62 trillion to twice that much. That amounts to $500,000 to as much as a million dollars for every American household. The promises that government has made are unsustainable, and it’s today’s young workers who will end up holding the bag when the money runs out.

It’s not like Romney has any serious plan to reduce the debt burden on today’s young people, and if they really wanted to end the wars and avoid bankruptcy, they’d probably vote for Gary Johnson. But we can at least hope that in addition to promising college students cheaper loans, Romney and Obama will feel pressed to come up with actual policies that might bring the nation’s unfunded liabilities to less-than-Greek levels.