In our recent paper, "Our Long-Term Debt Problems are Very Far From Solved," we showed that while the debt problem may be long-term, solutions need to start today.
Yesterday, Former Treasury Secretary and director of the National Economic Council Larry Summers argued that “budget deficits are now a second-order problem” and the focus should instead be on economic growth. Although the piece is in many ways insightful, it could perpetuate the myth in Washington that our debt problems are either solved or are no longer a pressing concern.
The release of the Congressional Budget Office's (CBO) Long-Term Budget Outlook is one of the big events in the budget world, and we'd like to think that this blog is as well: the update of our CRFB Realistic Long-Term Baseline. Based off of the ten-year CRFB Realistic Baseline and CBO data, our long-term baseline draws a plausible path for where our future deficits and debt are headed.
Reading the news these days, you might think our debt problem has been solved: the federal deficit has been revised downward and is falling to its lowest level in five years. Yesterday, however, Congressional Budget Office (CBO) Director Doug Elmendorf made clear that he, for one, does not subscribe to that view.
In an op-ed in POLITICO, former Senate Budget Committee staffer James Carter and Fiscal Commission adviser Paul Weinstein advised lawmakers to look beyond the short-term fiscal picture and the next ten years to the longer term. They note that too much focus has been on improvements in the near term due to legislative changes and technical re-estimates.
Late last week, the Washington Post's David Fahrenthold published a piece claiming that "big government is mostly unchanged" since 2010, when lawmakers turned their attention towards fiscal issues and Republicans took control of the House.
Frequent readers of this blog will be familiar with projections of long term debt. But the Peterson Foundation has found an interesting interactive way to present that informs the viewers about what the long-term outlook looks like and what the possibilities are going forward.