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Medicare is the fastest-growing part of the federal budget aside from interest payments — a problem that has only been made worse by declining revenues under the GOP tax law.

Expand chart
Data: Congressional Budget Office; Chart: Chris Canipe/Axios

The big picture: Spending is expected to grow by 117% over the next decade due to rising health care costs and an aging population. There’s no sense of urgency in Washington about this. And even if there was, this political environment sinks any chance of massive problem-solving.

Why it matters: The Medicare trust fund runs dry by 2026 if Congress doesn't pass benefit cuts.

  • While that just means that there won’t be money to fill in the gap between Medicare spending and tax revenue paying for it, the gap only gets worse after that.

What they’re saying: “Lawmakers have their head in the sand,” said Marc Goldwein of the Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget. “For the most part, nobody wants to touch this.”

Go deeper: What happens when Medicare goes broke.

Go deeper

Updated 13 mins ago - Politics & Policy

Inauguration Day dashboard

U.S. Capitol and stage are lit at sunrise ahead of the inauguration of Joe Biden. Photo: Patrick Semansky - Pool/Getty Images

President Biden has delivered his inaugural address at the Capitol, calling for an end to the politics as total war but warning that "we have far to go" to heal the country.

What's next: Biden has arrived at the White House and he will sign executive orders and other presidential actions.

41 mins ago - Podcasts

Podcast: After the Biden inaugural

Joe Biden was sworn in today as America's 46th president in an inauguration unlike any other in modern history.

Axios Re:Cap goes deeper into the speech, the atmosphere and what it all tells us about the incoming administration, with Axios political reporters Hans Nichols and Alexi McCammond.

Biden embarks on a consequential presidency

Photo illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios. Photo: Joe Raedle/Getty Images

Donald Trump tried everything to delegitimize the rival who vanquished him. In reality, he's set Joe Biden on course to be a far more consequential U.S. president than he might otherwise have become.

The big picture: President Biden now confronts not just a pandemic, but massive political divisions and an assault on truth — and the aftermath of the assault on the Capitol two weeks ago that threatened democracy itself.