Long-Term Budget Projections Show Need for Reform

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The Congressional Budget Office has released 30-year projections that underscore the need for presidential and congressional candidates to offer credible plans for comprehensive budget reform.

“Americans like to think we put a high priority on strengthening the country and looking out for the next generation, but the CBO’s latest long-term projections show once again that we are falling far short on both counts,” said Robert L. Bixby, executive director of The Concord Coalition.

He added: “Those who aspire to national leadership should take a good look at these projections and explain to the public how they intend to avoid the intense budget pressures and grave economic consequences toward which current policies are leading us.”

Federal debt held by the public is already high by historical standards at 75 percent of GDP. The budget office projects that under current law, that debt would rise to 86 percent of GDP in 2026 and to 141 percent in 2046 — far above the historical peak of 106 percent shortly after World War II.

According to CBO, simply keeping the debt-to-GDP ratio from rising above its current level would require spending cuts and/or tax increases totaling 1.7 percent of GDP in every year through 2046. That would amount to $330 billion in 2017.

The new projections also show how spending in a few parts of the budget — notably health care, Social Security and interest payments — will rise rapidly, squeezing many other important programs to levels that may be unwise or unrealistic.

“The changes needed to bring about a sustainable fiscal policy are substantial and the costs of delay are profound,” Bixby says, “yet so far the 2016 presidential candidates have said nothing that comes close to addressing the challenges identified in CBO’s report.”

External links:
2016 Long-Term Budget Outlook (CBO)

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