Congress and the president have put the federal budget on track for unsustainable and rising deficits without end. Mandatory spending programs—those that continue automatically without new appropriations—are expanding at a faster rate than discretionary spending programs, while total spending rises at a faster rate than revenues and national income. Health care, Social Security, and interest costs dominate this growth in spending, with most other government programs in relative decline. At this point, neither political party proposes to alter this overall fiscal trajectory, and presidential candidates and the president have suggested new spending programs or tax cuts that would exacerbate these trends.
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