By policy and procrastination, both Democrats and Republicans would largely exempt today’s elderly from changes and shift the burden to workers and the young. That’s not “liberal” or “conservative.” It’s expedient — and bad for America’s future. It suggests the young will pay even higher taxes and receive even fewer public services. It will make raising a family harder and possibly deter millions from doing so. It may endanger America’s security by shortsighted military cutbacks.

We still await a serious debate about which programs to cut and which taxes to raise. Congressional Republicans advance a radical plan for shrinking government — and are not candid about it. Obama defends the status quo of ever-bigger government — and is not candid about it. Perhaps these are negotiating positions and, needing to raise the federal debt ceiling, both sides will recognize their shortcomings. It’s a hope.