Looking at the 'big picture', should utilitarians care less about (present) welfare? John Broome argues [PDF] that the population effects of global warming will ultimately dwarf any direct suffering caused. More generally, impacts on present people dwindle to near insignificance when one considers the indefinitely many people that are yet to come. A dangerous thought. For example, does it mean that we should care less about temporary suffering, so long as an end is in sight?
Consider the vegetarian's arguments against factory farmed meat. The present system causes huge and unnecessary suffering to animals. But, we may think, it's only a matter of time until the industry is replaced by bioengineered meat (no animal required). If so, perhaps vegetarianism isn't the pressing moral issue Peter Singer says it is. Factory farming causes massive suffering today, but very little in the grand scheme of things.
The most pressing issue, on this way of looking at things, is to promote 'viral' or compounding goods (e.g. wealth and education) and the social/moral infrastructure that will support continued progress.
There's a sense in which this 'progressivism' is deeply conservative. We should be less concerned about making progress ourselves, than in ensuring that progress may continue to be made in future. Procedural liberalism trumps social justice. We should care more about improving the state of public debate than pushing our particular agendas. (The two aren't necessarily exclusive, of course.)
Further, perhaps we should embrace some degree of perfectionism, and prioritize excellence over mere welfare (assuming that high attainment is more likely to benefit future generations -- think scientific breakthroughs).