The Congressional Budget Office released its 2016 Long Term Budget Outlook today. The one sentence summary is devastating.
If current laws remained generally unchanged, the United States would face steadily increasing federal budget deficits and debt over the next 30 years—reaching the highest level of debt relative to GDP ever experienced in this country.
Even more troubling is to read the one sentence summary from prior years.
If current laws remained generally unchanged, federal debt held by the public would exceed 100 percent of GDP by 2040 and continue on an upward path relative to the size of the economy—a trend that could not be sustained indefinitely.
If current laws remained generally unchanged, federal debt held by the public would exceed 100 percent of GDP by 2039 and would be on an upward path relative to the size of the economy—a trend that could not be sustained indefinitely.
Federal debt would grow to 100 percent of GDP by 2038 under current law, CBO projects, and would be on an upward path relative to the size of the economy—a trend that could not be sustained indefinitely.
Senator David Perdue went to the US Senate on a mission to tackle this crisis. Unfortunately, Washington, DC operates in an alternate reality that Alice in Wonderland could not unravel. Like a voice crying in the wilderness, Perdue said, “We’re past the tipping point in this debt crisis and we simply have to face up to the difficult choices we have to make today to arrest the spiraling debt.”
The 2013 – 2015 reports used the phrase, “trend that could not be sustained indefinitely.” In 2016, the CBO stopped using that phrase. Now they just point that we are headed toward the highest level of debt in relation to Gross Domestic Product that we have had in the entire history of our nation.
Perdue has been working on making a change in the budget process, noting that the process has worked only four times in over forty years. He does not operate under the delusion that a change in the process would be reason to celebrate mission accomplished. He gave this assessment: “Fixing the budget process alone will not solve the debt crisis, but the debt crisis cannot be solved until we fix the budget process.”
I believe that Americans will start to believe that our leaders are taking the crisis seriously when we see specific plans to shut down agencies in the government. Everyone talks about the government being too large and out of control. Yet, four sentences over four years show that the crisis grows worse each year.
We are all painfully aware that, with the current Republican leadership, there is no chance of eliminating agencies or reducing the size of government while Obama is in office. We are also aware that change takes time.
Between now and January, there is planning work that Republicans can do without involving Obama and the Democrats. We must see a real difference in the CBO summary in 2017.
Republicans in Congress, get out of your alternate reality. It is way past time to take some risks and get real. We will not survive if you don’t.
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