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Concord Coalition: No gimmicks can solve long-term budget outlook

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Concord Coalition: No gimmicks can solve long-term budget outlook

CBO’s latest projections are pretty grim.

According to the non-profit advocacy group Concord Coalition, the latest long-term projections from the Congressional Budget Office underscore the need for Washington to move beyond today's overly partisan environment to pursue broad fiscal reforms.

"In looking out beyond the usual 10-year frame for analysis of  budget trends, the CBO's annual report on the long-term outlook is an invaluable reminder that elected officials in both parties must spend less time cooking up budget gimmicks and more time working together to figure out how to put the nation on a more responsible and sustainable path," says Robert L. Bixby, Concord's executive director.

"There are no gimmicks to get around the demographics," he points out.

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"As in the past, the CBO's long-term outlook is an excellent antidote to complacency.""The current debate over highway funding offers a particularly good example," Bixby added. "Instead of stabilizing funding for infrastructure projects that both parties agree can increase the nation's long-term economic potential, Congress is using an accounting gimmick that will increase deficits in the long run to simply postpone by 10 months a more serious discussion of highway funding needs."

Meanwhile, the demographic trends that increase fiscal unsustainability march on. Over the next 25 years, CBO says, we can expect an aging population to drive 55% of the growth in federal health care programs and Social Security. The number of Medicare beneficiaries will double over the same period, while declining labor force growth could result in lower economic growth.

"As in the past, the CBO's long-term outlook is an excellent antidote to complacency," Bixby said. "And it is particularly welcome this year, when economic growth and short-term drops in the deficit have led many in Washington to neglect such fundamental challenges as meeting the needs of an aging population, coping with rising health care costs and repairing the unfair, inefficient tax system."

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