June 25, 2009
This paper reviews recent economic events and their impact on U.S. fiscal performance and prospects. We highlight the historic nature of the 2009 budget outcomes, the unsustainability of plausible ten-year budget projections, and the increasingly dire long-term fiscal problem. These conditions leave federal policy makers with difficult choices. Over the next several years, as the recession ends and the economy recovers, policy makers will face a delicate balancing act between encouraging economic recovery and establishing fiscal sustainability. Even if a successful recovery ensues, however, medium-term and long-term fiscal problems have become increasingly urgent.