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PICTURES: Four Major Changes That Could Ease the Entitlements Battle PICTURES: Four Major Changes That Could Ease the Entitlements Battle

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Budget / BUDGET

PICTURES: Four Major Changes That Could Ease the Entitlements Battle

NOVATO, CA - FEBRUARY 10:  Fred Lear (R) sits in on an activities session at the Lifelong Medical Marin Adult Day Health Care Center on February 10, 2011 in Novato, California.  LifeLong Medical Care in Novato is a state-licensed center that provides adult day health care and activities to nearly 60 Marin County seniors and would be forced to close if California Gov. Jerry Brown's proposed budget cuts were to be approved by the state legislature in order to make up for California's $28 billion deficit. The deep cuts to Medi-Cal would jeopardize up to 300 adult day care centers throughout California and displace nearly 37,000 people that depend on the service.  (Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images) *** Local Caption *** Fred Lear(Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)

May 13, 2011

When lawmakers debate the tools they have to manage the transition of the country’s social-insurance programs into the next century—how to tax, what to spend, and various policy changes—they work with a variety of assumptions about what the United States and its economy will be like. Long-term trends are just as important as short-term shocks. Changes in four key areas, alone or in concert, could help alleviate the financial pressure driving the entitlements debate—or raise the stakes.

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