SENATE BUDGET Committee Chairwoman Patty Murray (D-Wash.) has now weighed in with a budget plan to counter the House Republican tax-and-spending blueprint. We’ll get to that Democratic document in a moment. First, here’s a quick fiscal reality check, based on an analysis published Feb. 28 by economists William G. Gale and Alan J. Auerbach of the Brookings Institution.
There has been halting but real deficit reduction progress in recent months. The United States faces no imminent budget “crisis.” Nevertheless, the economists write, “the 10-year budget outlook remains tenuous.” Even assuming steady economic growth, the national debt in 2023 will be twice as high as its historical average, as a percentage of the economy — and poised to resume rising. That long-term fiscal problem, driven by the growth of entitlement programs for an aging population, remains unaddressed. Dealing with it, Messrs. Gale and Auerbach write, will take tax and spending changes “several times the size of those adopted under the recent legislation.”