The Budget Outlook

Research Report

The Budget Outlook

Baseline and Adjusted Projections
September 22, 2003


The CBO's new budget update provides the opportunity to reassess fiscal prospects and reconsider policy options. This paper examines the baseline CBO projections and adjusts the official data in ways that we believe more accurately reflect the current trajectory of tax and spending policies and the government's underlying financial status. Although the CBO baseline projects unified deficits that average 1 percent of GDP and shrink over the next decade, realistic assumptions about current policy imply persistent deficits of in excess of 3 percent of GDP in the unified budget and in excess of 5 percent of GDP exclusive of retirement trust funds. All budget projections deterioriate sharply and permanently after the current decade ends.

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