Sessions: CBO economic outlook is unrealistic, too sunny

Alexis Levinson Political Reporter
Font Size:

The budget projection for the next decade released by the Congressional Budget Office on Tuesday was pretty depressing, but not depressing enough, says Alabama Sen. Jeff Sessions.

Sessions contends that some of the guidelines the CBO is required to adhere to assume unrealistic future actions, and thereby falsely decrease the projected national debt. Sessions’ staff ran their own analysis without these guidelines, and concluded that another $5.7 trillion would be added to the deficit over the next decade, and that the country will in fact “accumulate $9.8 trillion in public debt and $11.4 trillion in gross debt over the next ten years.”

CBO is required to assume that laws will expire when they are set to do so, when in fact some of these laws will almost definitely be extended. Sessions’ team focused on three of these laws: The 2001 and 2003 tax cuts, which are due to expire in 2012; the alternative minimum tax (AMT); and the rates of Medicare payments to physicians, which are due to go down.

In fact, Sessions points out, “not even President Obama supports” ending the tax cuts, and Republicans certainly do not, making that law unlikely to expire. The (AMT) has been set to begin to catch more taxpayers, but instead, Sessions points out, it “has been patched annually to hold taxpayers harmless for more than a decade.” And the payment reduction in Medicare has been set to occur for years, but congress has never allowed it to happen because the upshot would likely be that doctors would stop taking Medicare patients.

A “more realistic baseline outlook” would be to say that “deficits total some $9.9 trillion over the next 11 years — for an average deficit of some $900 billion each year for as far as the eye can see — and total debt well in excess of projected economic output,” Sessions’ office states in the press release.

The major problem with the CBO report, the Sessions report suggests, is that it overstates the amount of revenue that the government will bring in — with the assumed tax increases and use of the AMT. However, spending also plays a major role.

The disparity between this report and the CBO’s outlook is dangerous, Sessions’ office argues, providing a falsely sunny outlook, and setting “a dangerous course which must be confronted by the president in his upcoming budget submission.”

Follow Alexis on Twitter