In announcing that Ben Bernanke would be reappointed to a second four-year term as Federal Reserve chairman, the White House admitted that the US debt situation continues to worsen. The Congressional Budget Office (CBO) says the US debt outlook is worse than what the White House says.
The White House projected that over the next ten years the budget deficit would be $2 trillion more than previously projected. Critics had loudly condemned the earlier projections as “rosy.” “Out of touch with economic reality,” some said. The critics have been validated.
The CBO now says the ten-year projection for the deficit is $7.14 trillion, some $2 trillion more than projected as recently as March. It seems that every time new deteriorating economic statistics are evaluated, the economy looks even more bleak and the deficit projection looks even bigger. Can any of the numbers be relied on? Probably not.
It was only six months ago that the White House and the CBO numbers were some $2 trillion lower. What will be the ten-year projection in another six months?
The CBO’s $7.14 trillion projection assumes no changes in Obama administration policies. If the administration’s fiscal plans are allowed for, the CBO’s ten-year deficit projection swells to more than $10 trillion. Historically, the CBO has produced more accurate predictions than the White House. White House predictions nearly always are politically tainted regardless of what party holds the presidency.
The White House expects that economy to shrink by 2.8% this year compared with its earlier estimate of 1.2%. It also expects unemployment to exceed 10% and to stay higher than 8% until the end of 2011. The White House and the CBO see this year’s budget deficit at around $1.6 trillion, which probably will be right considering that this fiscal year ends September 30.