Each January, CBO prepares “baseline” budget projections spanning the next 10 years. Those projections are not a forecast of future events; rather, they are intended to provide a benchmark against which potential policy changes can be measured. Therefore, as specified in law, those projections generally incorporate the assumption that current laws are implemented.
But substantial changes to tax and spending policies are slated to take effect within the next year under current law. So CBO has also prepared projections under an “alternative fiscal scenario,” in which some current or recent policies are assumed to continue in effect, even though, by law, they are scheduled to change. The decisions made by lawmakers as they confront those policy choices will have a significant impact on budget outcomes in the coming years.
CBO’s Current-Law Baseline
CBO projects a $1.1 trillion federal budget deficit for fiscal year 2012 if current laws remain unchanged. Measured as a share of the nation’s output (gross domestic product, or GDP), that shortfall of 7.0 percent is nearly 2 percentage points below the deficit recorded in 2011, but still higher than any deficit between 1947 and 2008. Over the next few years, projected deficits in CBO’s baseline decline markedly, dropping to under $200 billion and averaging 1.5 percent of GDP over the 2013–2022 period.
- CBO Budget Forecast presented this Morning (nvrdc.wordpress.com)
- U.S. Government Will Run $1.1 Trillion Deficit, CBO Says (businessweek.com)
- CBO: Taxes Will ‘Shoot Up by More Than 30 Percent’ Over Next 2 Years (cnsnews.com)