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The Federal Budget Outlook: No News Is Bad News

Alan J. Auerbach, William G. Gale

Published: October 11, 2012
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We present new estimates of the budget outlook, incorporating the latest projections by the Congressional Budget Office (CBO). Even with the economy recovering fully by 2018, current policy will result in deficits close to $9 trillion (4.5 percent of GDP) over the next decade, with the debt-to-GDP ratio above 85 percent by 2022. The long-term budget outlook is even worse and is sensitive to assumptions about health care spending. Although a still-weak economy limits the scope for large adjustments in the very short term, addressing this long-term imbalance sooner rather than later will allow for more reasonable and gradual adjustments.