Press Release
Wednesday, January 27, 1999

WASHINGTON -- The Concord Coalition expressed concern today that optimistic budget projections, expected to be released in the coming week, will lead politicians of both parties to make fiscally irresponsible choices.

"The Concord Coalition has long warned against spending tomorrow's income on today's expenses," said Concord Coalition Executive Director Martha Phillips. "Moreover, everyone in Washington seems to have forgotten that budget projections become more unreliable the further out they go. The President and Congress need to be careful not to over-commit surpluses that may or may not materialize over a decade from now."

"Before rushing to spend the projected surpluses, the basic premise that they will exist should be questioned. It is astounding how quickly everyone has bought into the idea of massive surpluses over the next 15 years," said Concord Coalition Policy Director Robert Bixby. "The President and Congress are talking as if Uncle Sam just won a $4.4 trillion lottery. They are dividing the winnings of a hypothetical jackpot."

A new budget projection is expected to be released on Friday by the Congressional Budget Office. The Office of Management and Budget is expected to release its budget projections on Monday in conjunction with the release of the President's fiscal year 2000 budget proposal.

Concord noted that using a 15-year time frame gives Congress and the White House the ability to spend more of tomorrow's dollars today. It is also important to remember that most of the surpluses do not arrive until the later years in the projections.

"Republicans and Democrats must focus on fixing the long-term problems facing Social Security and Medicare," said Bixby. "Both sides should resist the temptation to use projected surpluses as an excuse to paper over the serious problems in these two vital programs."