In “CBO Releases Daunting Long-Term Outlook,” Tim Fernholz at the National Journal reports that:
Increasing federal debt will be a growing burden on government action, crowding out lawmakers’ ability to adopt tax and spending priorities in good times and reducing flexibility during recessions, all while making a fiscal crisis more likely and hindering long-term growth, the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office said Wednesday.
In the annual Long-Term Budget Outlook, the legislature’s budget scorekeepers said that the ratio of debt to GDP this year will be 69 percent, 7 percentage points higher than last year. In 2021, the CBO predicts debt will reach 76 percent of GDP, but under a more dire—and more likely—scenario, the public debt will be 101 percent of GDP 10 years from now, well into the economic danger zone of 90 percent or more.
Last year, that worst-case scenario predicted a debt-to-GDP ratio of 87 percent in 2020, demonstrating that the public debt picture has worsened considerably, in part due to a bipartisan tax deal last year that reduced expected revenue.
While much of the debt is driven by the recession’s drop in tax revenues and government actions taken in response to the economic calamity, CBO highlighted the structural deficit that existed before 2007 and cites growing health care costs and the aging population as a major driver of government spending; federal health spending is set to grow from less than 6 percent of GDP today to more than 9 percent in 2035. . . .