Roughly 45% of the US population receives government entitlements, up from 39% 5 years ago. Unions represent only about 12% of the workforce and you see the unrest from asking them to give a little.
The common thread here is that both unions and those receiving entitlements are Democrat constituencies. The Left has mobilized hundreds of thousands over the issue of union compensation; how many do you suppose they can mobilize over a reduction in entitlements. For many years, any attempt to reform the entitlement structure has been met with resistance in the most destructive of terms. "You hate the children", "Republicans want old people to eat dogfood", "The 'Extreme Right' wants you to starve and die in the cold". Any future attempt will be met with more of the same. One only has to look at the attempts at budget cutting here in 2011.
I fear for the Republic. It is becoming more and more likely the streets will look like those in Greece, France, Spain.