June 30, 2017

A new report from the non-partisan Congressional Budget Office (CBO) warns that the “high and rising debt would have serious negative consequences for the budget and the nation,” including reduced incomes for families, an increased likelihood of financial crisis, and decreased flexibility for lawmakers when responding to unexpected challenges.

Here are five key takeaways — drawn from our analysis of the report — to help you better understand the scope, drivers, and consequences of our fiscal challenge:

  1. The federal deficit will grow significantly over the next ten years. The deficit will exceed $1 trillion annually by 2022, and will remain above $1 trillion permanently unless policies are changed.
    Federal budget deficits are projected to rise significantly
  2. Federal debt will reach historically high levels. The national debt will climb significantly over the next ten years, reaching 91 percent GDP in 2027 — more than double the 50-year historical average.
    The national debt is on an unsustainable path
  3. Interest costs are the fastest growing major item in the budget. As debt continues to accumulate and compound, and interest rates increase, net interest costs are projected to more than double over the decade.
    Net interest costs are projected to rise sharply
  4. Mandatory spending is projected to climb in the coming years. Due primarily to demographics and our nation’s inefficient healthcare system, mandatory spending (excluding net interest) is projected to increase from $2.5 trillion in 2017 to $4.3 trillion in 2027.
    Healthcare and Social Security are the major drivers of the projected growth in federal spending over the next 10 years
  5. Discretionary spending is projected to decline. As spending on mandatory programs and interest costs continues to rise, federal spending on discretionary programs will decline from 6.3 percent of GDP in 2017 to 5.4 percent in 2027.
    Mandatory spending and interest costs will climb significantly, while discretionary spending will fall to well below historical averages

To learn more about the CBO report, read the full analysis.


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