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ATLANTA -- Democrats and Republicans running in 2014 have been generous with their criticism after the latest short-term deal to keep the governing running and pay U.S. debts.

But they've been stingy with any concrete proposals that fundamentally would change the national balance sheet -- and many say politics is the reason.

Powerful Democratic groups go to the mat to protect Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid.

Republicans love defense spending, and key GOP groups boast absolute opposition to higher taxes.

Voters are enjoying public benefits and historically low tax rates, plus a web of credits, deductions and exemptions.

Together, those dynamics add up to steep odds that President Barack Obama and congressional leaders, no matter what they say, can restructure the budget before the next showdown.

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