WASHINGTON (AP) -- Federal programs on automatic pilot are consuming ever larger amounts of government resources as Congress struggles to resolve budget disagreements.
The trend helps older Americans, who receive the bulk of Social Security and Medicare benefits.
This generational shift alarms policy advocates who say the United States is reducing vital investments in the future. That includes spending on education and scientific research.
Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid keep growing, largely untouched by Washington's budget battles.
Steady expansions of these nondiscretionary entitlement programs require no congressional action. So they flourish in times of political gridlock.
In 1962, 14 cents of every federal dollar not going to interest was spent on entitlement programs. The amount is 47 cents today. And it will reach 61 cents by 2030.