One of the good things that happened in 2013 was an abatement in federal budget deficits that undercut media-driven debt panic and the Republican drive for their idea of “entitlement reform,” meaning benefit cuts, cost shifts, and wholesale abandonment of beneficiaries. At the same time, both the short-term deficit numbers and GOP obstinance over taxes led the Obama administration to stop talking about a budgetary “grand bargain” and offering “entitlement reform” concessions.

In this lull, my friends at The American Prospect and The Democratic Strategist (where I am managing editor) thought it would be an ideal time to have an intra-progressive discussion of the future of entitlements that would not be overshadowed or inhibited by conservative efforts to tear them apart or administration horse-trading over COLAs or age of qualification. So we’ve arranged for a forum featuring well-known liberal and center-left commentators to talk about the safety net as they would if conservatives were not menacing them.

It begins today at the Prospect site. Here’s the overview from the Prospect’s Kit Rachlis and myself, and here’s the first contribution from the Brookings Institution’s Henry Aaron, who frames the debate with his usual authoritative brilliance.

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Ed Kilgore is a political columnist for New York and managing editor at the Democratic Strategist website. He was a contributing writer at the Washington Monthly from January 2012 until November 2015, and was the principal contributor to the Political Animal blog.