Updated April 3, 2012
The Government Accountability Office (GAO) recently updated its report on the federal government’s long-term fiscal outlook. The report underscores the serious problems our country faces if it continues on its current fiscal path.
Here are some of the projected milestones for the years ahead, based on one of the scenarios in the GAO's report (the "alternative simulation"* ):
These ominous numbers demonstrate how unsustainable our current path is and how badly corrective action is needed. It’s high time for our leaders in Washington to get serious about making the tough choices to put our fiscal house in order.
It is also incumbent on ordinary citizens to recognize how the budget problems affect them and to put pressure on Washington to address them. Waiting will only make the corrective measures more painful.
The scenario on which these projections are based will not actually happen. It couldn't. No one would lend us the money and, in any event, the economy would have crashed long before debt reached some of the levels shown here. The key question is what steps will be taken, and when, to keep things from reaching a crisis.
* The GAO’s “alternative simulation” is a scenario that closely reflects the continuation of current policies.