Presidential candidates haven't wanted to touch them, and still don't now. But demographic reality is dragging Social Security and Medicare into the 2016 debate.
The first members of the massive baby boom generation began retiring four years ago. Tens of millions are right behind them, leaving politicians in Washington the unenviable task of finding money to shore up the two popular entitlement giants.
There are only two options: Increase the amount of money coming in (through higher tax revenues) or decrease the amount going out (through reduced benefits). Neither goes well with seeking votes — as President George W. Bush found out in 2005 when a skittish Republican-controlled Congress refused to act on his plan to partially privatize Social Security.