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Entitlements are programs that provide for the poor and elderly as well as those who are disabled. The largest programs are Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid. For some the term “entitlements” stirs controversy. Is one ‘entitled’ to benefits because they paid into the system that provides a program or service later in life? Are those living below the poverty line ‘entitled’ to receive help because as a society we have an obligation to help those in need?

Regardless, entitlements are a political timebomb as they become more financially unsustainable over time and remain a perennial challenge to reform. The following is a look at federal entitlements and what can be done to preserve the programs that address the needs of our society.

Part of the Conversation Series: Personal Finance Series

Financial Literacy

Money is a commodity we deal with every day and is essential for everyone. It brings context as a measurement of value to the goods, services, and resources that we have, need, and give. And yet, money is often discussed in hushed tones, if it is discussed at all. Limited discussion and opportunities to learn about money may result in a lack of basic financial knowledge and management skills, known as financial literacy. Financial literacy is key to understanding both our tangible and intangible assets so we can best manage our finances and ourselves.

Part of the Conversation Series: Personal Finance Series


From ancient times it has been understood that “Good health and good sense are two of life's greatest blessings.”
(Publilius Syrus)

Good health is a building block of a good life and the American Dream. Advanced medicine is modern-day blessings courtesy of economic development and American medicine is by some measures the best in the world, but costs have been rising for decades, creating problems of access and affordability, and suppressing wage growth. Reforms meant to address these concerns have had unsatisfactory results. Is there a better way?

Part of the Conversation Series: Personal Finance Series The 2021 Series


Traditionally, owning a home has been equated with achieving the American Dream.

As Housing America states it: “Without safe, decent and affordable housing, children won’t get the education they need; seniors will be unable to age in place; veterans and people with disabilities will not be surrounded and supported by community, and families will be unable to thrive.”

So, is owning a home still a crucial part of the American Dream? And what about housing for those for whom it has been a perennial struggle? What roles do society and government play to meet the universal need for a safe place to call home?

Part of the Conversation Series: Personal Finance Series The Community Series

Impact Investing

Capital enables companies to expand, innovate, and take risks, which gives them the unique ability to address some of the world’s most pressing challenges. Investors looking to generate a financial profit while also contributing to socially-conscious companies and entrepreneurs have turned in recent years to impact investing. How exactly does impact investing work? What challenges exist in this sector? How do these investments perform, both in terms of social impact and financial returns?

Part of the Conversation Series: Personal Finance Series


To fund the services it provides, the United States government derives revenue from individuals and businesses by taxing income, purchases, and property, in addition to a variety of taxes paid on specific goods or on various activities. However, some think the current tax code undermines fairness, economic growth, and transparency. Do the recent changes to the tax code go far enough to better serve these goals? What else should be done?

State Specific Information: Illinois Wisconsin
Part of the Conversation Series: Personal Finance Series The Business Series

The Affordable Care Act

This deep dive focuses on the Affordable Care Act, its impact on healthcare, and what's next. It can be used along with our Healthcare Reform Brief or as stand-alone reading material.

Part of the Conversation Series: Personal Finance Series The 2021 Series

The Federal Debt

High federal deficits and debts emerged in the United States during the Great Depression and World War II. Since the Great Recession, though, a more troubling phenomenon has emerged: persistent deficits even when the country is at peace and is enjoying economic growth, leading to a constantly expanding national debt. Why are these annual deficits occurring year after year? What are the key contributing factors? If there is a way for our nation to reign in this out-of-control spending, what should be done and who will it affect?

State Specific Information: Illinois
Part of the Conversation Series: Personal Finance Series The Foundational Series