Young people overwhelmingly supported President Obama in both his elections in the hope that he might make their lives better.
But over at BuzzFeed, Ben Smith has written an insightful piece, “Obama prepares to screw his base,” explaining how young people will bear a disproportionate share of the costs of Obamacare.
My major quibble with Smith’s piece? Obama isn’t preparing to screw young people. He and other politicians have been doing it for years.
Obamacare is an obvious example. A central tenet of the plan and the purpose of the individual mandate is to shift costs from older, sicker people to younger, healthier people. Unsurprisingly, health care costs are projected to nearly triple under Obamacare for Americans under the age of 27.
It’s also no surprise that AARP, which Smith called the “implacable lobby for retired people,” has been “energetically making the case that young people should pay up.”
Ezra Klein responded to Smith’s piece with a post: “Don’t worry, kids. Obamacare is a good deal.” Sounds a lot like Ezra is trying to sell some swampland in Florida. And heck, young people have been sold so much swampland under Obama that we’re drowning in the mud.
Generation Opportunity’s latest Millennial Jobs Report found that 13.1 percent of 18-29 year olds are unemployed while another 1.7 million have given up looking for work. That means roughly one out of six young people did not get up and go to work today.
Consider the plight of a young woman named Melissa, who shared her story on one of our Facebook pages, The Constitution by Generation Opportunity: “I’m still stuck in the same dead end job I had in college. I graduated almost 2 years ago and can’t find a single full time job! … I work at a putt putt and entertain kids every weekend for a little over minimum wage. I have to live with my folks, too. They are really loving about it. But, I can’t seem to find an opportunity to go out on my own.”
According to a 2012 study by the Pew Research Group, 49 percent of 18-29 year olds have taken a job they didn’t want just to pay the bills and 24 percent say they have taken an unpaid job just to gain work experience. Only 30 percent consider their current job to be a career.
In his recent inaugural address, President Obama argued, “We reject the belief that America must choose between caring for the generation that built this country and investing in the generation that will build its future.” But the choice has already been made, with young people left holding the bag.
And Washington’s idea of investment? Asking us to bankroll a government-run health care system that we will barely use. It’s no surprise that our national debt is now $16.5 trillion, financed more and more on the backs of young Americans. The average American’s share of the national debt is now over $50,000. If that number were weighted by age, an 18-year-old’s share would approach $1 million.
The increased costs to young people under Obamacare in particular are real and devastating. The American Action Forum estimates that young, healthy people will be forced to endure insurance premium increases of 169 percent to provide older, sicker Americans with a 22 percent decrease in their premiums.
There is no doubt that we will shoulder a disproportionate share of the burden of Obamacare. But if we don’t start demanding a seat at the table, young people will be crushed under the burden of a future without opportunity.
Evan Feinberg is the president of Generation Opportunity, a national, non-partisan youth advocacy organization.