by Mitch Kokai
Senior Political Analyst, John Locke Foundation
Recent John Locke Foundation (and N.C. State) featured speaker Yuval Levin writes at National Review Online about the latest reminder of the federal government’s long-term fiscal challenges.
On Monday, the Congressional Budget Office released its annual “Budget and Economic Outlook,” which offers projections about spending, revenues, deficits, and debt for the next ten years.
Although it’s not about porn stars and hush money, the report is really worth your time. It nicely summarizes what should be obvious to all: the Republican Congress and president do not seem to care about deficits or debt, and are not only failing to take steps to address the government’s poor fiscal situation but are taking steps likely to worsen it some. If numbers like these were to be published while a Democratic Congress and president were in office, they would be taken by many of us on the right as a blaring alarm and a strong reason to worry. We should take them precisely that way now; there is no excuse for doing otherwise.
First the basics. Even using its standard fiscal scenario (which assumes that expiring tax and spending provisions will be allowed to expire and that we will have far fewer emergency spending requirements in the future than in the past), CBO expects that the federal deficit will approach a trillion dollars next year and then will exceed a trillion dollars in every subsequent year over the coming decade (and beyond). The result will be $13 trillion of additional debt over the next ten years. We will achieve levels of debt, relative to the size of the economy, not seen since the Second World War—when we had a much better reason for them, and when there was a serious prospect of significantly paying down the debt (as the federal government indeed ended up doing). There is no such reason and no such prospect now.