NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis

Congress Borrowed From The Future

December 3, 1999

Spending increases enacted this year will soon eat into future surpluses, the Congressional Budget Office has warned Congress. So there will be less money available for new tax cuts or benefit programs being advanced by both Republican and Democratic presidential candidates.

  • The CBO says that appropriations outlays will reach $613 billion for fiscal 2000 -- an increase of $36 billion, or 6 percent over the fiscal year which ended September 30.
  • By fiscal 2001, the added costs are compounded by the fact that Congress also extended tax credits and raised government health-care payments without finding offsets in the budget.
  • These alone may cost the Treasury as much as $8.8 billion in fiscal 2001 -- when the Republican leadership must also pay a price for having shifted billions of dollars in costs from one year to the next.
  • These failures could add up to as much as $11 billion by 2001.

If appropriations spending continues at its current pace, the surplus of $37.5 billion the CBO had projected earlier for 2001 would be wiped out entirely and the government may have to borrow $19.4 billion from Social Security just to pay for operations.

Source: David Rogers, "Spending Rise May Erode Surpluses, Hurt Proposals Backed by Candidates," Wall Street Journal, December 3, 1999.


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