Assessment: Radical Measures Required To Balance Federal Budget

By John S. McClenahen Projected federal budget deficits are so big that even with full economic recovery from the 2001 recession and a decade of economic growth, balancing the federal budget by 2013 would require such "radical steps" as raising individual and corporate income taxes by 27%. That's the blunt assessment of three respected Washington, D.C.-area organizations: the Committee for Economic Development, a group of business leaders and educators; the Concord Coalition, a group that advocates a sustainable U.S. fiscal policy; and the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, a public policy research group. The three groups figure that without policy changes, the combined federal budget deficits between 2004 and 2013 would total $5 trillion, nearly half the current value of the entire U.S. economy. Unless the federal government changes course, the coming decade will be "the most fiscally irresponsible in our nation's history," the groups warn. They are bipartisan in placing blame. "The [Bush] Administration fails to acknowledge the relationship between its fiscal choices and the nation's long-term future, while Democratic alternatives tend to ignore the fact that existing commitments for retirement, health and security exceed the revenues available to pay for them."

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