Republicans and Democrats, despite rumblings to the contrary, will eventually preserve lower interest rates on college loans for middle- and lower-income students.
It's an election year and neither party wants to be tagged with raising rates on struggling students.
What Congress can't agree on is a way to pay for that.
Democrats want to raise taxes on some high-income individuals, while Republicans want to gut a preventive health initiative included in the 2010 health care overhaul.
Think what you want about the 2010 health insurance reform law, cutting funding for preventive care would be disastrous.
The reasons are just too compelling to ignore, especially this one: Some experts believe children born after 2000 will become the first generation of Americans with shorter life spans than their parents.
A report in the New England Journal of medicine estimated obesity is already shortening adult life spans by four to nine months, meaning it is having a greater impact on total longevity than accidents, homicides and suicides — combined.
Some argue that medical science will find new ways of extending the lives of children and adults afflicted by obesity and diabetes. Gastric bypass surgery is already showing promise as one such "cure."
But interventions to offset a disease are always more painful, expensive and risky than preventing disease in the first place.
The U.S. already has, by far, the most expensive health care system in the world.
We spend about 17 percent of our gross domestic product on health care, a costly burden largely borne by employers and taxpayers.
The most costly effects of obesity and diabetes — heart attacks, cancer, blindness, amputations and strokes — show up later in life and will put an immense strain on our already underfunded Medicare system for older Americans.
That expensive system poses the greatest long-term threat to our federal treasury and economy.
The breaking point is already upon us. Congress is wrestling with how we can continue to pay for this increasingly expensive care. Again, Democrats want to raise taxes while Republicans want to trim benefits.
But there is another way.
First, we must change the way we deliver medical care to reward comprehensive preventive treatment. We currently emphasize and reward treatment, rather than prevention.
Second, we must convince Americans to change their habits and lifestyles.
Studies show that a fast-food diet heavy in fats, salt and sugar is linked to a higher incidence of obesity, heart disease, stroke and even cancer.
Combine all that with an increasingly sedentary lifestyle and you have the prescription for the rapidly unfolding health care crisis.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention say one in 10 U.S. adults suffers from diabetes. If present trends continue, that will increase to between one in three and one in five adults by 2050.
Fortunately, that sentence begins with "if," meaning it doesn't have to happen.
But that will take a collective effort and will involve doing everything from changing our tax system (which favors corn sugar producers over vegetable growers) to our medical system and our personal habits.
Failing to change will condemn us to our painful, costly and destructive course.
The opinions expressed in this column reflect the views of the ownership and the editorial board.