Social Security is the largest program in the federal budget, accounting for almost 24 cents out of every dollar spent by the government in 2016. The program consists of two main components: Old Age and Survivors Insurance, which provides benefits to 49 million retired individuals and their dependents, and their survivors; and Disability Insurance, which pays benefits to 11 million workers with disabilities and their dependents.
Health care programs are the largest and fastest growing in the federal budget. These programs include Medicare (providing health insurance for older Americans), Medicaid (providing health insurance for lower-income Americans), the Children’s Health Insurance Program, and subsidies for individuals to purchase private health insurance under the Affordable Care Act. Currently they comprise almost 30 cents out of every dollar spent by the federal government.
The Concord Coalition is celebrating its 25th anniversary this year. From the beginning, we have been more than “deficit hawks” with an eye only for balanced budgets.
The American People, If Presented With Credible and Understandable Information, Can Make Tough Fiscal Policy Trade-offsJuly 06, 2017
Over the past 25 years, The Concord Coalition has hosted hundreds of events with lawmakers, universities, civic organizations, trade associations and many others to focus attention on the nation’s long-term fiscal challenges. Our goal has been to present these audiences with straight-forward facts in programs that are free of partisanship and ideology. The message has been simple: Whether you prefer a smaller or larger government, it must be paid for.
The Congressional Budget Office (CBO) provides a critical service for policymakers and the public: projecting the budgetary and economic impacts of proposed legislation. Since its inception in 1974, CBO has established an unparalleled track record for objectivity and analytical rigor.
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.