About half of the United States budget goes toward paying Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid. These programs, called entitlements, are a vital support for millions of Americans who need health coverage and income in retirement.
These entitlements are also a heavy drag on the U.S. economy.
Baby Boomers continue to age out of the workforce and cash in, taking benefits and living longer. There are about 50 million Americans getting Social Security and another 11 million who receive disability benefits. Medicare benefits go to 55 million people.
All the while, there are comparatively fewer and fewer younger workers able to take jobs and help fill the coffers.
Conservatives traditionally try to downsize entitlement programs: Republican presidential candidates in the primaries floated ideas like increasing the...