Here is an eye-opening excerpt from Robert Samuelson's latest attempt to draw attention to the entitlement spending crisis in our future:
From 2000 to 2030, the 65-and-over population will roughly double, from 35 million to 72 million, or from about 12 percent of the population to nearly 20 percent. Spending on Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid -- three big programs that serve the elderly -- already represents more than 40 percent of the federal budget. In 2006, these three programs cost $1.1 trillion, more than twice defense spending. Left on automatic pilot, these programs are plausibly projected to grow to about 75 percent of the present budget by 2030.
Stalemate results because all the ways of dealing with these pressures are controversial. There are only four: (a) massive tax increases -- on the order of 30 to 50 percent by 2030; (b) draconian cuts in other government programs (note that the projected increases in Social Security and Medicare, as a share of national income, are more than all of today's domestic discretionary programs); (c) cuts in Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid -- higher eligibility ages or lower benefits for wealthier retirees; or (d) undesirably large budget deficits.
If you look at my posts devoted to entitlement spending, you'll see that I've already linked to Samuelson's work on several occasions.