New CBO Estimates on Deficit Heighten Pressure for a Deal

Earlier today the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office (CBO) released new projections showing that the nation’s debt could approach twice its Gross Domestic Product (GDP) within 25 years without action being taken. CBO has historically taken a conservative approach to estimating the deficit, but in this “alternative fiscal scenario” they assume that the tax breaks enacted under President Bush will continue and that there will be no cuts to Medicare physician payments. While it seems politically unlikely that physician payments will be cut in any major way, the fate of the Bush-era tax breaks is less predictable. President Obama has campaigned to end the income tax cuts for those making more than $250,000 and the fate of the tax cuts will likely be determined by the outcome of the 2012 elections. What is certain is that the timing and alarming nature of this new CBO report will only increase the pressure on the team of Congressional negotiators being led by Vice President Biden to come to a deficit reform agreement. Negotiators have given themselves until July 1st to come up with a deal as the clock is ticking toward August 2nd when Treasury Secretary Geithner has said that the U.S would begin defaulting on its debt obligations.

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