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The Boston Globe


John E. Sununu

Scary waters

As Europe scrambles to avoid economic danger, risks in US spending policies become evident

With former Dartmouth College President Jim Kim taking over the World Bank, rumors have short-listed Tim Geithner as his possible replacement in Hanover, N.H. If the Dartmouth board doesn’t mind uncomfortable ironies, the treasury secretary may soon be headed north. Last Monday, just 48 hours after Geithner scolded Europeans to act “aggressively” and deal with their long-unfolding debt crisis, the Trustees for Social Security and Medicare issued an annual report showing an ever-dimmer outlook for our entitlement programs.

My teenage daughters would call that moment “awk-ward!” And for the youth of America, the consequences of putting off overdue budget reforms become more palpable every day. While Medicare insolvency is forecast for 2024, the same as last year, Social Security goes insolvent by 2033 — three years sooner than previous predictions. “We’re not Europe,” the saying goes, and that’s a good thing, too. But Europe’s move into uncharted waters is serious. It will become more so over the summer — and seems more and more likely to set the tone for our own elections in November.

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