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There is something profoundly timid about U.S. President Barack Obama’s proposed $3.778 trillion federal budget for 2014. Stripped of boasts about “investments” for the future and a responsible “balance” between deficit reduction and economic growth, the budget is a status-quo document. It lets existing trends and policies run their course, meaning that Obama would allow higher spending on the elderly to overwhelm most other government programs. This is not “liberal” or “conservative” so much as politically expedient and lazy.

The trends are clear. From 2014 to 2023, the administration projects annual spending on Social Security to rise from $860 billion to $1.4 trillion, assuming its proposal for altering the inflation adjustment of benefits is adopted.

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