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Introduction: Federal Entitlement Programs and the Fiscal Challenge


Published April 9, 2020

Long-run fiscal problems in federal government are due entirely to entitlement programs. Their continued growth is imposing a large cost on society by slowing down the economy and limiting improvements to standards of living. In order to control these costs, we need bipartisan reform that preserves the values of entitlement programs while making them sustainable and affordable.

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Video Recorded: August 26, 2019.

Discussion Questions:

  1. What are the positive and negative impacts of entitlement programs? How might we balance these impacts to create effective reform?
  2. America has chosen to finance entitlement spending largely through debt rather than by increasing taxes. What are the consequences of continuing to fund these programs through debt?

Additional Resources:

  • Watch “Entitlements and the Budget” with John Cogan on PolicyEd, available here.
  • Watch “John Cogan Tells Us How to Think about Entitlements” on PolicyEd, available here.
  • Watch “Falling Short: Social Security, Medicare, and Payroll Taxes” with John Cogan on PolicyEd, available here.
  • Listen to the Area45 podcast episode “Is Entitlement Reform Possible?” with John Cogan, available here.
  • Listen to the EconTalk podcast episode “John Cogan on Entitlements and the High Cost of Good Intentions,” available here.