The national debt has doubled during the past decade as a share of gross domestic product (GDP), and entitlements are seen as the primary driver going forward. As news reports from Greece to Illinois show the real consequences of debt, there is a new urgency in some quarters to make sure that federal entitlement spending doesn't spin out of control when the crest of the baby boomer retirement wave arrives.
While Rep. Paul Ryan (R) of Wisconsin has given fellow Republicans cover to talk about significant entitlement reforms the past few years, the prospect is still a daunting one for many Democrats. Yet some are beginning to position themselves not as defenders of the status quo, but as agents of responsible change.
“We’ll make the tough reforms required to strengthen Medicare for the future, without undermining the rock-solid guarantee at its core,” Obama said in a Saturday address.
Some prominent Senate Democrats, including Richard Durbin of Illinois, are also urging entitlement reforms. In a March interview with The Wall Street Journal, he said the cost of fixing the mismatch between spending and revenue for these programs gets harder the longer the nation waits to act.