"Over the long term (beyond the 10-year baseline projection period), the budget remains on an unsustainable path. Unless changes are made to current policies, the nation will face a growing demand for budgetary resources caused by rising health care costs and the aging of the population. Continued large deficits and the resulting increases in federal debt over time would reduce long-term economic growth by lowering national saving and investment relative to what would otherwise occur, causing productivity and wage growth to gradually slow.
"Last year, outlays for Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid combined accounted for about 9 percent of GDP. Outstripping the growth of GDP, spending for those programs is expected to rise rapidly over the next 10 years, totaling nearly 12 percent of GDP by 2019. Under long term projections recently published by CBO, such spending would continue to rise under current laws and policies and could total 17 percent of GDP by 2035.
"If outlays for those programs reached that level, federal spending would be well above its historical percentage of GDP. Unless revenues were increased correspondingly, annual deficits would climb and federal debt would grow significantly, posing a threat to the economy. Alternatively, if taxes were raised to finance the rising spending, tax rates would have to reach levels never seen in the United States. Some combination of significant changes in benefit programs and other spending and tax policies will be necessary in order to attain long-term fiscal balance."
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