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Don't miss this chance to solidify Medicare and Social Security

The Capitol dome on Capitol Hill in Washington.

The Capitol dome on Capitol Hill in Washington. Credit: AP

When President Barack Obama unveils his 2016 federal budget Monday, it will mark a sharp shift in the debate of the recent past. After years of obsession with deficits and spending cuts, the conversation among both Republicans and Democrats will shift to spending increases, either for the military, the middle class or both. And the last thing Republicans now in control of both the House and Senate want is talk of shutting down the government or defaulting on the nation's obligations and debts.

That's a relief from the budget follies of recent years. But with discretionary spending and deficits down and sustained economic growth accelerating, this would be a golden moment for Congress, from a position of fiscal strength, to tackle tax reform and shore up the finances of Medicare and Social Security. Alas, that's not to be.