By: Paul Ryan
Today, the Congressional Budget Office [CBO] released its updated Budget and Economic Outlook (http://www.cbo.gov/doc.cfm?index=9706), predicting that the federal government's budget deficit will exceed $400 billion for the next three years, reaching a peak of $438 billion in fiscal year 2009, the highest deficit ever in nominal terms. These projected deficits are unacceptably high, and both Republicans and Democrats are rightfully expressing frustration with the situation.
Unfortunately, what many Members of Congress are not focusing on is that today's deficits pale in comparison to the staggering amount of red ink looming on the horizon. For example, while the deficits for the next few years represent around 3% of our country's GDP, CBO predicts that by 2030, the out-of-control growth of entitlements could drive the annual budget deficit to over 10 % of GDP, more than three times the size of today's record deficits. And this is just the beginning. By 2050, CBO projects that the deficit could grow to over 20% of GDP, and by 2082, the deficit could grow to 54% of GDP, nearly 20 times the size of this year's deficit.
So while members of both parties will spend much of the day and even the remainder of the election season blaming each other for today's budget mess, we must put politics aside and come together to address the longer-term fiscal crisis facing our nation. This problem has not received enough attention in the Presidential campaigns, in Congress, or in the press. This must change. The looming threat to our nation's prosperity gets closer and larger each and every year that we wait, and if the growth of our entitlement programs is left unchecked, their size will eventually consume our economy and irreparably damage the country's standard of living. Our children deserve a better future.