CBO Budget Report Is Another Startling Reminder About Debt and Deficit

WASHINGTON, DC – Senator James Lankford (R-OK) made the following statement about the release of Monday’s Congressional Budget Office (CBO) budget and economic outlook report, which shows that the deficit will surpass $1 trillion per year by 2020: 

“This CBO budget and economic outlook report is yet another startling reminder that our total debt and yearly deficits are headed in the wrong direction. CBO confirmed that our deficit is rapidly approaching $1 trillion in overspending. In just two years from now, CBO projects that trillion dollar deficits will continue on indefinitely if Congress does nothing to course correct. Interest payments on our debt are growing so fast that they are projected to triple over the next decade to $915 billion. In four short years, our debt payments from overspending will be a larger expense to the taxpayer than all defense and military spending combined. Moreover, the main Medicare and Social Security Trust Funds that underpin these vital programs for our nation’s seniors are projected to be insolvent by 2026 and 2031, respectively. Deficits used to be a problem for our future, now it is a problem for our present. 

“Washington’s problem is America’s problem. To address our federal debt, we must slow the growth of all spending and increase revenues with a growing economy. The economy is improving, with the help of tax reform, but we now must get serious about budget reforms and spending cuts. We can do this by ending our budget-by-Omnibus mentality and changing our budget process so we can make specific and targeted spending reforms through a transparent appropriations process. I am afraid that nothing will shake Congress out of the deficit complacency. We cannot allow trillion dollar deficits to become the norm in Washington. The Joint Select Committee on Budget and Appropriations Process Reform is a worthy place to debate these reforms, and I’m hopeful it will bear fruit.”

Lankford believes the debt projections should serve as a serious reminder, however, the CBO report does raise some concerns about its forecasting and estimate models. In 2013, CBO estimated that, in 2018, the country would be at $517 billion for interest on the debt and have a $605 billion budget deficit. In this report, they predict, for 2018, that our interest on the debt will actually be at $316 billion and the deficit will increase to $804 billion, a discrepancy of $200 billion on both categories. In addition, CBO predicts a higher projected deficit than previous years, despite $200 billion in lower interest payments.

Lankford has continually advocated for budget reforms since the beginning of his time in Congress. He currently serves as a member of the bipartisan, bicameral Joint Select Committee on Budget and Appropriations Process Reform. In 2016, Lankford proposed budgeting changes, government shutdown prevention incentives, and the elimination of budgeting gimmicks. Since 2015, Lankford also introduced an annual government waste report called Federal Fumbles: 100 Ways the Government Dropped the Ball, which identifies examples of waste and solutions to fix the problem. Last month, Lankford joined former Senator Tom Coburn to write an op-ed about debt and deficit.