New Estimates of the Budget Outlook

Research Report

New Estimates of the Budget Outlook

Plus Ça Change, Plus C'est la Même Chose

Abstract

Despite substantial attention given to fiscal policy concerns in recent years, the federal government's fiscal status has continued to deteriorate, with the enactment of tax cuts, a massive new Medicare entitlement, increased spending on defense and homeland security, and related economic developments. This paper provides new estimates of the nation's fiscal status over both the 10-year and long-term horizon, based on the most recent (January 2006) Congressional Budget Office official budget figures (CBO 2006). Our general conclusions are not surprising: under plausible assumptions, the nation faces significant short- and medium-term deficits and massive long-term shortfalls. Dealing with these problems will require spending cuts or tax increases that are far beyond the scale of anything currently considered politically palatable.

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