What the New CBO Outlook Report Means in the Big Picture

Feb 12, 2014 by AFP

By Thomas Fletcher 

This post is part of a series on the new CBO report on the Budget and Economic Outlook: 2014-2024.

On Tuesday, the non-partisan Congressional Budget Office (CBO) released its annual Budget and Economic Outlook: 2014-2024. Americans for Prosperity has combed through the report and discussed what it means for American families living outside of the DC beltway. Our first post focused on the President’s health care law, and our second post focused on the debt and the deficit. This post focuses on the big picture. In one word: scary.

While the Obama administration was quick to hide behind a temporarily shrinking deficit, they conveniently overlooked that over the long-term the US economic outlook looks increasingly distressing. The report shows rising health care costs, an exploding debt and deficit, and out of control entitlements. Perhaps even more distressing is that Congress seems interested in doing little other than repeating the same old empty rhetoric that they’ve recycled for years.  Speeches aside, there remain fundamental challenges in getting Americans back to work while reducing the country’s fiscal burden.

The most disturbing part of the CBO report is the administrations culpability and unwillingness to acknowledge these problems, let alone fixing them. To recap: The President passed a bloated stimulus plan,  a trillion dollar job-killing health care law, and done nothing to reform entitlements, which are the main drivers of our skyrocketing debt. Instead, it’s becoming increasingly likely that, when this administration skips town in 2016, it will be their successor’s problem.

What’s Next?

Politicians routinely promise their constituents that they will control federal spending once they are elected. Unfortunately, we see them frequently fail to keep these promises once they get to office–they seem more interested in keeping the status quo of overspending. President Obama and both parties in Congress seem unwilling to steer us in a different direction and actually make the difficult but necessary choices needed to get the country back on to a sustainable fiscal path. This is bad news for the millions of taxpayers wanting a less costly, more efficient government. If our elected officials continue to make the same old empty promises, than the United States day of fiscal reckoning will soon be upon us and future generations will be left to pay for it.

With the exception of the Budget Control Act of 2011, which Congress later invalidated with the Murray-Ryan budget deal, there has been little legislative appetite to curb spending. Following the Murray-Ryan budget deal, Congress bypassed regular order to pass a trillion dollar omnibus appropriations bill, and most recently a trillion dollar farm bill. While AFP has recommended ways to rein in the size and scope of government, federal lawmakers seem to have little interest in acting on them. What seems certain however, is a commitment to this “new normal” of stagnant economic growth.