On Jan. 15, 2009, President-elect Barack Obama told The Washington Post that the United States was "at the end of the road" in putting off reform of entitlement programs. He promised "hard decisions," adding: "You have to have a president who is willing to spend some political capital on this. And I intend to spend some."
Now Obama and congressional Republicans have struck a two-year budget deal, the likely final act of fiscal policymaking until his successor arrives in 2017. It's time to ask: What does the Obama-era record show?
The answer depends, in part, on the policy goal you have in mind. If you're worried about the actuarial sustainability of the two biggest entitlement programs for the elderly - Social Security and Medicare - the news is relatively positive, especially about the latter.
As of the day Obama took office, Medicare's trustees projected that its hospital trust fund would be insolvent by 2017. Today, they say 2030. The additional 13 years reflect the unexpected slowing of health-care cost increases, surely a highlight of Obama's presidency.