Want to cure millennials' financial woes? Reform the payroll tax.

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In early June, the Social Security and Medicare trustees released their annual report on the fiscal health of these programs, and the situation looks dire. Medicare is scheduled to run out of money in 2026 (three years sooner than anticipated), while Social Security is expected to run out in 2034. The rising national debt is only one of the well-known financial struggles the millennial generation faces. The burdens of student loan debt, high housing prices (thanks to zoning restrictions), stagnant wage growth, the rising cost of healthcare and lingering aftershocks of the Great Recession are among the biggest sources of economic anxiety millennials feel.

Progressive politicians have been very successful at courting the youth vote, partly because they actually promote policy ideas that address many of these concerns. As unrealistic or counterproductive as Senator Bernie Sanders' proposals for single-payer health care or a $15 an hour minimum wage might be, they feel in theory like they would provide the economic stability and prosperity millennials want.

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Republicans, on the other hand, have struggled to craft a message to address these concerns. Fiscal conservatives recognize, correctly, that the burden of the $20 trillion national debt and over $200 trillion in unfunded liabilities will fall on millennials. Some conservatives have even written books about that fact. But the need to reform entitlements hasn't exactly caught millennials' attention. Pollster Kristen Soltis Anderson, in her book The Selfie Vote, notes that millennials generally view protecting the safety net as more important than reducing the deficit.

Clearly, Republicans have a problem. They need to craft solutions that address the millennial generation's struggles, but they can't seem to sell entitlement reform, their biggest policy preference that addresses those problems. The Republican approach to wooing millennials on policy is failing because talking about stopping the debt from reaching an unsustainable level is long-term and abstract, and offers few immediate tangible benefits. A new approach to both pave the way for entitlement reform and give millennials an immediate financial boost is to first reform not entitlement spending, but the payroll tax: specifically, by partially (or wholly) replacing it with a value-added tax.

Under the current Social Security model, workers pay for the benefits of current retirees through the payroll tax. This system creates the illusion of a pension program, in which what you put in is what you get out, but in reality Social Security is a universal safety net program for the elderly paid for by taxes. The payroll tax falls on workers and is a tax on labor, while the value-added tax (VAT) is a tax on consumption imposed at every part of the production process. Assuming that this policy change is revenue-neutral, switching to a VAT will shift the responsibility for funding Social Security and Medicare away from workers, disproportionately poorer and younger, and onto everyone participating in the economy as a whole. Furthermore, uncoupling Social Security funding from payroll taxes would pave the way for fiscal reforms to transform the program from a universal benefit program to one geared specifically to eliminating old-age poverty, such as means-testing benefits for high-income beneficiaries, indexing benefits to prices rather than wages or changing the retirement age.

Switching from the payroll tax to the VAT would address both conservative and liberal tax policy preferences.

Switching from the payroll tax to the VAT would address both conservative and liberal tax policy preferences. As the Tax Policy Center notes, the change would actually make the tax system more progressive. The current payroll tax is regressive, meaning that people with lower incomes tend to pay a higher effective tax rate than people with higher incomes. On the other hand, the value-added tax is much closer to proportional than the payroll tax, meaning that each income group pays closer to the same effective tax rate.

For Republicans, such a change would fit conservative economic ideas about the long-run causes of economic growth. A value-added tax has a much broader base than the payroll tax, and therefore would allow for much lower marginal tax rates, and lower marginal tax rates mean smaller disincentives to economic activity. According to the Tax Foundation's analysis of a value-added tax, the VAT would be a more economically efficient revenue source than most other taxes currently in the tax code.

Not only would replacing part or all of the payroll tax provide an immediate benefit to millennial taxpayers, it would also open the door for the much-needed entitlement reforms that have been so politically elusive. Furthermore, it would make the tax code both more pro-growth and less regressive. In order to even begin to address the entitlement crisis, win millennial support and stimulate the economy in a fiscally responsible manner, Republicans must propose moving from the payroll tax to the VAT.

Alex Muresianu is a Young Voices Advocate. His writing has appeared in Townhall and The Federalist. He is a federal policy intern at the Tax Foundation. Opinions expressed here are his only and not the views of the Tax Foundation. He can be found on Twitter @ahardtospell.

Confirming Kavanaugh: Welcome to the #MeToo era

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Welcome to the #MeToo era of Supreme Court justice confirmation.

Last Thursday, Senator Dianne Feinstein disclosed the existence of a secret letter, written by an anonymous woman alleging that Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh sexually assaulted her when they were in high school in the 1980s.

Yesterday, there was a major twist in this story that everyone who follows Leftist strategy should've seen coming: the anonymous woman suddenly revealed herself to be Christine Ford, a 51-year-old research psychologist at Palo Alto University in Northern California. She's a registered Democrat and has donated to political organizations. But she pinky-swears that it has nothing to do with her coming forward with this story just one week before the Senate Judiciary Committee votes on Kavanaugh.

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Christine Ford spilled the exclusive beans to The Washington Post because they believe that "Democracy dies in darkness." And of course, if there's anything that Kavanaugh hopes to accomplish on the Supreme Court, it's murdering democracy.

Ford told The Post that during a high school party, a drunk Brett Kavanaugh pinned her on a bed, groped her, and covered her mouth to keep her from screaming.

She said:

I thought he might inadvertently kill me. He was trying to attack me and remove my clothing.

There is no indication that she reported such a harrowing attack to the police.

Kavanaugh unequivocally denies the accusations. The White House released a letter signed by 65 women who say they knew Kavanaugh in high school and vouch for his character. But it won't matter. The Democrats will get their circus this week and Kamala Harris and Cory "Spartacus" Booker will get their chance to remind everyone to vote for them for president in 2020 because only Democrats like women.

It's virtually impossible to prove or disprove her claim. But the political timing of the story drains its credibility.

Christine Ford might be telling the absolute truth about this incident with Kavanaugh. She might also be making up the whole thing for politics sake. Problem is, it's virtually impossible to prove or disprove her claim. But the political timing of the story drains its credibility. Kavanaugh was confirmed to the federal bench by the Senate in 2006. Where was Ford's dramatic story then?

Last year this worked to de-rail Roy Moore's senate campaign, so why not try the same tactic with Kavanaugh? Especially since it perfectly serves the Left's narrative that Kavanaugh plans to destroy women's rights.

Truth doesn't stand a chance when it's up against this kind of hysteria.

Unprecedented: You'll never believe who just snubbed Obama

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Somewhere, in some dark newsroom, an age-old editor is levitating, eyes glowing like radioactive soil. Because an unprecedented event has taken place, right in front of our eyes, a puzzling miracle, something never before seen in journalism: The Associated Press criticized Barack Obama.

Yes, friends, you read that right. The AP guard has turned against their wizard leader. The army has mutinied against their commander... you get the point. The AP has always loved Obama, like they have a crush on him. It's more of an obsession, really.

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They've always stored up their animus and directed it at one person: President Trump—well, Trump and everyone around him—going so far as to mock First Lady Melania's hat on one occasion. They blatantly insulted her fashion and appearance, all the while championing social justice, immigration and women's rights, but that's another conversation for another day.

Even the article's title is salty: "AP FACT CHECK: Obama doesn't always tell the straight story." We'd all just gotten used to headlines like "AP FACT CHECK: Trump ruins America" or "AP FACT CHECK: Reality star embarrasses country again" or "AP FACT CHECK: Orange man bad."

Here's the opening line of the article:

Former President Barack Obama's recent denunciation of President Donald Trump's treatment of the press overlooks the aggressive steps the Justice Department took to keep information from the public during his administration. Obama also made a problematic claim that Republican "sabotage" has cost 3 million people their health insurance.

Then they break down all the lies Obama has committed. It's truly unbelievable.

OBAMA: "It shouldn't be Democratic or Republican to say that we don't threaten the freedom of the press because they say things or publish stories we don't like. I complained plenty about Fox News, but you never heard me threaten to shut them down or call them enemies of the people." — rally Friday at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign.

THE FACTS: Trump may use extraordinary rhetoric to undermine trust in the press, but Obama arguably went farther — using extraordinary actions to block the flow of information to the public.

Did they just say that Obama went farther than Trump? In undermining the press?

They actually said Obama's rhetoric to the press was worse than Trump's.

Overall, this is a great thing—a sign that the AP might even be regaining its ability to do actual journalism. But, man, it is still a shock. They actually said Obama's rhetoric to the press was worse than Trump's. Good heavens, this must be the last day on earth!

Although, I can say that it's not, because, if it were, the New York Times would be reporting all about it: "Trump causes apocalypse, is racist," endorsed by the whole editorial board, all foaming at the mouths like they're possessed by demons—or worse, deranged Antifa protestors who slept through their noon session of yoga.

By now, thanks to the incessant fear-mongering by Democrats, you're probably aware that American women will lose all their rights if Brett Kavanaugh becomes a Supreme Court justice. Technically, there's not any truth to that idea whatsoever of course, but it hasn't stopped the hysterics.

Now, this anti-Kavanaugh hysteria has inspired Democrats in Maine to get creative. Because one of their senators, sort-of-Republican Susan Collins, is considered a potential deciding vote in Kavanaugh's confirmation, they are threatening to donate $1 million to her 2020 Democratic opponent, unless Collins votes "no" on Kavanaugh.

RELATED: PROGRESSIVE PANIC: No, Kavanaugh is not 'a death sentence for thousands of women in the U.S.'

Using a crowd-funding site called Crowdpac, two groups called "Maine People's Alliance" and "Mainers for Accountable Leadership" posted a listing that says:

The people of Maine are asking you to be a hero, Senator Collins… If you fail to stand up for the people of Maine and for Americans across the country, every dollar donated to this campaign will go to your eventual Democratic opponent in 2020. We will get you out of office.

The project has already received pledges from 37,000 people, totaling over a million dollars. In a weird way, they're basically attempting to buy her vote. In some circles, this is known as bribery. Senator Collins released a statement calling it extortion, and then one of the groups behind this effort called her response, "politics at its worst."

The Maine groups' twist is that if Collins votes "no" on Kavanaugh, they supposedly won't collect the pledges from their 37,000 donors. But they're still using the pledged money to try to induce Collins to vote the way they want, they're just not offering the money directly to Collins like your typical, old-fashioned bribe.

Like many poorly conceived schemes in our social media age, Maine Democrats didn't really think this one through.

Like many poorly conceived schemes in our social media age, Maine Democrats didn't really think this one through. Because bribery is a federal crime. And just because this is a kind of hipster, inverse bribe, several legal experts think it's still technically a bribe.

Could these groups be shooting themselves in the foot with this strategy? What if, by trying to force Collins to vote no on Kavanaugh, they inadvertently cause her to vote yes, simply to avoid looking like she was influenced by their scare tactic?

And just when you thought politics couldn't get any weirder.

It's bad enough that bigoted scientists have assumed the gender of Hurricane Florence, now President Trump is stepping in to make the hurricane more powerful.

Remember a time when sentences like that one would be laughed at? Not anymore. Yes, a massive storm is about to make landfall on the East coast and The Washington Post is blaming President Trump for the hurricane. For a hurricane.

RELATED: Hurricane Florence is bearing down on the East Coast and YOU have to be the first responders

And this is not an op-ed. This is straight from the editorial board of the Washington Post.

"When it comes to extreme weather," they write, "Mr. Trump is complicit. He plays down humans' role in increasing the risks, and he continues to dismantle efforts to address those risks. It is hard to attribute any single weather event to climate change. But there is no reasonable doubt that humans are priming the Earth's systems to produce disasters."

Meanwhile, Obama is hailing angelic rainbows down from Heaven, LGBTQ only of course, and sheltering woke transgender infants from tornados in Nebraska. Linda Sarsour and Colin Kaepernick only need to wave their hands and earthquakes will stop.

The Washington Post editorial again:

With depressingly ironic timing, the Trump administration announced Tuesday a plan to roll back federal rules on methane, a potent greenhouse gas that is the main component in natural gas. Drillers and transporters of the fuel were supposed to be more careful about letting it waft into the atmosphere, which is nothing more than rank resource waste that also harms the environment. The Trump administration has now attacked all three pillars of President Barack Obama's climate-change plan.

The piece concludes:

The president has cemented the GOP's legacy as one of reaction and reality denial. Sadly, few in his party appear to care.

In other news, the Russians have meddled with a tsunami in Southeast Asia, which will have catastrophic effects on the mid-term elections here in America.