Comptroller General Gene Dodaro warned that the federal government is on an “unsustainable fiscal path” as a result of decades of runaway spending far exceeding revenues, he reported Tuesday.
Dodaro — whose job makes him head of the Government Accountability Office (GAO), the investigative arm of Congress — made the statement in releasing his agency’s first annual federal fiscal analysis. The current federal deficit is $587 billion, up from $439 billion for 2015.
The report attributed the increase in the annual deficit to higher spending for Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid and interest on the debt.
“I remain deeply concerned about our government’s unsustainable long-term fiscal path,” Dodaro said in a statement. “The Congress and incoming administration face serious economic, security, and social challenges that will require difficult policy choices … about the level of federal spending … as well as ways to obtain needed resources.” (RELATED: Report: National Debt Well On Its Way To Reaching Historic High)
The report bluntly said: “The federal government is on an unsustainable fiscal path.” (RELATED: US Budget Deficit TRIPLES to $137 Billion In November)
Legislative and policy changes that both decrease spending and increase revenue are needed to right America’s fiscal course, according to GAO.
Lawmakers, and the incoming Trump administration, “will need to consider the whole range of federal activities and spending,” a GAO blog post said. “They will also need to make some tough policy choices in order to put the federal government on a path of long-term fiscal sustainability.”
The steadily increasing entitlement spending and interest payments “put pressure on other areas of the government and could limit the ability to respond to unforeseen events,” the blog post said.
GAO also provided suggestions for federal agencies to eliminate unneeded and wasteful spending, including reducing improper payments, which were estimated to total $144 billion in 2016. Additional proposals included reducing duplication and inefficient government programs.
“I hope GAO’s findings will serve to sound the alarm and spur a longer-term approach to help turn things around,” Dodaro said.
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