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Yesterday, the Congressional Budget Office published its 2016 Long Term Budget Outlook for the U.S. government. Investors Business Daily‘s John Merline identifies the main takeaway from this year’s edition of the CBO report.
The nation’s long-term fiscal picture has grown considerably more dire over the past year, according to the latest forecast from the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office, driven mainly by out-of-control spending.
The CBO now expects federal debt held by the public to reach 141% of the nation’s GDP by 2046, assuming that current policies remain in place. That’s up sharply from last year’s forecast of 111%, and would be the highest level of debt in the nation’s history.
The new forecast shows that annual deficits will top 8% of GDP by 2046, up from 2.9% this year. The growing deficit is entirely the result of increased spending. While revenues are expected to hit 19.4% of GDP that year — up from this year and far higher than the post-World War II average — federal spending will consume a record 28.2% of the economy by 2046.
Merline goes on to identify the federal government’s spending on health care as being the major driver of the future spending increases.
The CBO’s 2016 Long Term Budget Outlook anticipates that economic growth in the U.S. will be considerably than both it and the White House has previously projected, which will impair the government’s revenues. When that gloomier outlook is combined with the CBO’s projections of ever higher spending and deficits, the nation’s fiscal situation has clearly worsened.
The bright spot in the CBO report is that even though the nation’s fiscal situation has become gloomier, it is benefiting from falling interest rates on the U.S. government’s $19.2 trillion national debt.
The CBO warns however that the benefit of lower interest rates on debt issued by the U.S. Treasury will only last for so long. Merline comments:
CBO also expects interest payments to shoot up from 1.4% of GDP to 5.8% of GDP.
As the report notes, if left unchanged, this future would be devastating to the nation’s economy.
“Large and growing federal debt over the coming decades would hurt the economy … reduce national saving and income … and increase the likelihood of a fiscal crisis,” the report says.
The U.S. already has an outsized national debt, worsening economic growth and out of control spending. The CBO’s 2016 Long Term Budget Outlook projects that without major fiscal reforms, that already dire situation will continue to get worse.