With the Senate’s failure to pass health care legislation in last week’s votes, Congress should turn to a bipartisan approach. This is needed both to fix the serious, short-term problems with health care marketplaces around the country and to propel health care cost-control initiatives over the longer term.
Many politicians who want to simultaneously receive credit for promoting fiscal responsibility while avoiding the tough decisions required often look for easy solutions. The two most common of these are pledges to cut “waste, fraud and abuse” and to “grow our way out of the problem.” These supposedly easy options, however, are not enough to address our nation’s long-term fiscal challenges.
The heart of the nation’s long-term fiscal challenge is a changing demographic landscape. The ongoing retirement of the baby boom generation will continue to slow the growth rate of the workforce, which will slow potential economic growth (GDP) compared to earlier decades. According to CBO, the average annual growth rate of potential labor was 1.4 percent from 1950 to 2016. Due mostly to the baby boomer retirements, CBO projects that rate will fall to just 0.5 percent by 2027.
While much has changed in the past 25 years, this fundamental reality has not: Federal budget policy remains on an unsustainable track, driven by structural forces that increase federal spending faster than revenues.