November 16, 2010
GAO Report Underscores Need to Address Long-Term Sustainability of Government's Fiscal Policies
Since 1992, GAO has published long-term fiscal simulations showing federal deficits and debt levels under both "Baseline Extended" and an "Alternative" set of assumptions. GAO has regularly updated these twice a year. GAO developed its long-term model in response to a bipartisan request from Members of Congress concerned about the long-term effects of fiscal policy. According to its fall 2010 summary:
GAO's annual fall update of its long-term simulations underscores the need to address the long-term sustainability of the federal government's fiscal policies. While the economy is still fragile and in need of careful attention, there is wide agreement on the need to look not only at the near-term but also at steps that begin to change the long-term fiscal path as soon as possible without slowing the recovery. With the passage of time the window to address the long-term challenge narrows and the magnitude of the required changes grows. The federal government faces long-term fiscal pressures that predate the economic downturn and are driven on the spending side largely by rising health care costs and an aging population. GAO's simulations show continually increasing levels of debt that are unsustainable over the long-term. ...
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