Editors at the Washington Examiner urge Congress to get serious about the federal debt problem.

Amid the congressional battle over the nation’s debt ceiling and government spending, both parties have agreed to ignore the elephant in the room: out-of-control entitlement spending and the threat it poses to the nation’s fiscal stability.

We understand House Speaker Kevin McCarthy’s (R-CA) reluctance to touch Social Security and Medicare right now. Entitlement reform is hardly the way to gain the approval of a voter base that has become too dependent on the government’s excessive spending. Moreover, the debt ceiling showdown between House Republicans and the White House is not the appropriate context for the vast, complicated reforms that need to be made.

But lawmakers on both sides of the aisle should acknowledge that just because they’ve kicked the can down the road for so long doesn’t mean they can do so forever. Social Security and Medicare finances are unsustainable. The two programs already absorb more than half of all federal revenue, and according to the Congressional Budget Office’s projections, Medicare spending alone is expected to double by 2033.

Both Medicare and Social Security have for years been spending far more in benefits than they take in in taxes. During this time, both programs have been drawing down on their “trust funds,” which are accounting fictions. But there have never been any real assets in either of these accounts. As soon as these systems started paying out more than they took in, they began adding to the deficit each year. What will change when these trust funds run dry is that the federal government will not be legally authorized to spend what it has already promised to pay in benefits.

If lawmakers do nothing, Medicare’s hospital trust fund will run out in 2028. To put it yet more plainly, that’s just five years from now.