The declining federal budget deficit is encouraging, but long-term forecasts show spending mushrooming to unsustainable levels. A report released recently by the Congressional Budget Office projects debt rising continuously after 2017. Assuming that policymakers allow temporary spending and tax-cut provisions to expire and do not further increase deficits (which is highly unlikely), debt will rise from 74 percent of gross domestic product in 2014 to 108 percent by 2040, 147 percent by 2060, and 212 percent by 2085, the Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget noted. If policymakers don’t act responsibly (which is much more likely), debt could increase to 170 percent of GDP by 2040 and keep climbing. An aging population, rising health care costs and rising interest payments are driving the debt projections. “There are no gimmicks to get around the demographics,” warned Robert L. Bixby, executive director on the nonpartisan Concord Coalition.
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