July 23, 2014

CBO Projections Show a Political Disconnect

  • The federal budget is an expression of our country's values. Where we choose to spend and at what levels, how and who we tax, and the borrowing we...

The Congressional Budget Office today released long-term projections that the Concord Coalition said showed how disconnected today’s political debates are from the key issues that must be dealt with to put the federal budget on a more sustainable path over the next 25 years.

“Candidates and elected officials this year have been focusing on cuts to domestic and defense appropriations even though these programs are not the source of future budgetary pressures,” said Robert L. Bixby, Concord’s executive director. Meanwhile, he said, “the tax debate has largely been about whether to extend all or part of the expiring tax cuts and less about the kind of base-broadening, revenue-increasing reforms we need.”

The new CBO report, Bixby said, is an important reminder “that the aging U.S. population and rising health care costs will dramatically increase pressure on the federal budget from the largest entitlement programs over the next 25 years, and that the projected gap between spending and revenue under current policies is simply unsustainable.” He called on this year’s political candidates to focus more on proposed solutions to this fiscal gap.

The CBO’s 2012 Long-Term Budget Outlook makes projections well beyond the usual 10-year “budget window,” incorporating the long-term impacts of demographic trends and rising health care costs. It offers two scenarios: One assumes current laws will remain in place, and an alternative and  “much bleaker” scenario assumes that certain federal policies would be renewed and that some provisions in current law would be modified.

To deal with the long-term challenges explained in the report, Concord supports efforts in Congress to follow through on proposals developed by a bipartisan majority of the National Commission on Fiscal Responsibility and Reform (Simpson-Bowles) and other bipartisan groups.

Read more with New CBO Report Shows Disconnect in Today’s Political Debate