Magazine March 22, 2010, Issue

Entitlement Apocalypse

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What we must do to avoid it

Our long-term budget challenge can be summarized in one word: entitlements. Without Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid, the budget would be roughly in balance over the coming decades. But with these programs, and without reform, a fiscal crisis is inevitable. To balance the budget over the next 25 years would require an immediate and permanent 30 percent increase in all federal taxes. That is the future we face, and it is a future of our own making.

Entitlements traditionally have paid generous benefits — financed by affordable taxes — to rich and poor alike, because the ratio of workers to beneficiaries

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