CBO's latest Monthly Budget Review for March gives us a look at how the federal budget looks compared to last year halfway through the fiscal year. This year's deficit through six months is $777 billion, compared to $829 billion through the same period last year. The smaller deficit is the result of revenue being $46 billion higher and outlays actually being $7 billion lower compared to FY 2011.
The Government Accountability Office (GAO) has released its Long Term Outlook for the federal budget, showing an ever-climbing debt path as a percentage of GDP over the long term. Under both its Baseline Extended and Alternative scenarios, debt rises rapidly as increasing health care spending, among other things, overtakes revenue. This is especially true of the Alternative, which assumes that expiring tax policies are extended and that revenue and discretionary spending are held to their historic averages over the long term.
According to CBO’s report on the budget targets specified by Chairman Ryan and his staff (not a more traditional scoring of policies for whatever results those yield), Ryan’s budget targets would reduce the federal debt to 10 percent of GDP by 2050. By our calculations, these targets would transform deficits into surpluses starting in 2035.
CBO's most recent estimate of the insurance coverage provisions of the Affordable Care Act has sparked a debate about how CBO's estimate of ACA has changed over time.
Although CBO's analysis of the President's budget is the newsmaker in March in the budget world, CBO also updates its current law baseline, which shows slightly lower deficits from 2013-2022 than it projected in January. Compared to January, ten-year deficits have shrunk by $186 billion from $3.1 trillion to $2.9 trillion.
The U.S. Budget Watch report "Primary Numbers: The GOP Candidates and the National Debt" has generated a lot of buzz since its release last Thursday.
Yesterday, we argued that to actually stabilize the debt as a share of the economy, you probably need to propose a plan with even more savings than what would stabilize the debt under current projections. The risks come from both the economic and political uncertainties:
Last week, in our analysis of the President's submission, we noted how the President's submission to the Super Committee nearly stabilizes debt, but not fully, this decade and how much more will be needed to actually put debt on a clear downward path.
We stated that:
With President Obama's deficit reduction plan now officially out, it's worth comparing the debt path under this plan to other debt paths. For the comparison graph below, we have thrown in CBO's August baseline (excluding the trigger included in the Budget Control Act), the Fiscal Commission, and CRFB's Realistic baseline.