- The Washington Times - Tuesday, January 24, 2017

The federal government will run another half-trillion-dollar deficit this year — and that’s the good news.

A still-sluggish economy and rising interest rates mean deficits will grow over the next decade, the Congressional Budget Office said in a new report Tuesday, adding another $10 trillion to the already exorbitant public debt.

Unless something changes, within three decades, the debt will be double what it is now, when measured against the size of the economy — a level never seen in U.S. history, the CBO said.

“Such high and rising debt would have serious negative consequences for the budget and the nation,” the CBO said in its 10-year budget outlook, which sets the stage for this year’s budget debate, already shaping up to be contentious under President Trump.

For now, the federal government’s deficit in 2017 will look strikingly similar to 2016, at about 2.9 percent of gross domestic product. Total spending remains above the average of the last 50 years, at 20.7 percent of GDP, while revenue is also slightly higher at 17.8 percent.

But it’s over the next decade that the trend line gets worse: By 2027, spending will be 23.4 percent of GDP, while revenue will only rise to 18.4 percent. That amounts to more than $1.4 trillion.

Perhaps most surprising is that nearly a decade after the Great Recession, the economy still has yet to fully recover.

The CBO said the economy is right now “on solid ground,” and projects real GDP growth of 2.3 percent this year — but that slides to 2 percent next year and dips to just 1.5 percent in 2020, just when the next presidential election is scheduled.

By the end of the decade, the CBO says, growth will average just 1.9 percent a year.

Mr. Trump has said that number should average 4 percent a year during his administration, promising a massive infrastructure plan and giant tax cuts that he said will get the economy humming.

They would, however, likely make the deficit numbers worse, based on the recent track record.

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