Tuesday, October 2, 2018

CBO Budget Projections as of April 2018

The Congressional Budget Office provides projections of federal government outlays and revenues. This projection process is thought to be a bipartisan effort. I thought it would be useful to share their latest projections for discussion. I won't say a lot in this post. Just present the facts. My table below was constructed without the aid of JD by me based on 10-year projections found at the website indicated below. Since 10 years is a very long time, I thought it would be better to focus on the five-year period, 2018 to 2023.

The top of my table presents the usual suspects for government budgeting -- spending, deficits, and debt. I ignored tax revenues in this piece so I could focus mostly on spending or outlays. The bottom of my table gives some details about what are called "mandatory" versus "discretionary" outlays. The first column gives projections for 2018. The second column reports the same information for 2023. The final column is the percent change over that five-year period.

First, the top of the table. Total outlays will rise by 45% in the five years from 2018 to 2023. If you divide 45 by 5 you get 9. Nathan, you do not need to get your calculator. Ignoring compounding, the math implies a 9% average annual increase over five years. I know you will get a 9% raise each year over the next five years. Right? Notice that GDP is expected to rise by only 32% over those years.

On the third line is net interest outlays expected to be paid on the nation's debt. Those expenses will more than double -- a 145% increase from $316 billion in 2018 to $774 billion in 2023. In terms of dollars, the $458 billion increase is the largest for any subcategory of spending. Notice that the national debt is expected to increase from $20 trillion to $26.6 trillion over that time period. And interest rates will rise as well. The table shows that we will make no effort to reverse the increase in debt. The already high annual federal government deficit of $804 in 2018 will increase to more than a trillion dollars in 2023.  Yup -- a one-year government deficit of over a trillion dollars in 2023.

Mandatory spending will gobble up most of the 45% increase of all outlays. While there are a large number of Mandatory Programs, you can see from the table that almost all of that increase is expected to go to spending on Social Security (Old-Age and Survivors), Medicare, and Medicaid. The remaining Mandatory Programs are peanuts compared to what we spend on the big three. Discretionary spending will rise by 16% in comparison. Discretionary spending includes defense and other programs that must be legislated by Congress.

I won't ruin your perfectly nice day by going through all the categories. I will let you do that on your own with your favorite beverage. But notice how so many perfectly lovely programs are being squeezed out because we have to pay more for the big three.

This puts liberals in a bad spot. How do liberals balance the squeezing out of so many programs by three social programs they also love? You conservatives should not be so happy either. While these figures do not have all of defense spending, they do show that military is being squeezed too. How do you get more of what you want out of government and not have these nasty deficits and debts? Seems like being between a rock and a hard place.

Five-Year Projections of Outlays by the CBO 2018 to 2023 as of April 2018. The below link has 10 year projections from which I took these five years.

Data in columns 1 and 2 are in millions of dollars. Since fiscal year 2018 was not finished in April, 2018 is considered to be a projection. 

2018 2023 % Chg
Mandatory 2,546 3,760 48
Discretionary 1,280 1,481 16
Net Interest        316     774 145
Total Outlays 4,142  6,015 45
Deficit      -804 -1,352 68
Debt held by public 15,688 24,338 55
GDP 20,103 26,595 32
Mandatory Outlays
Old-Age and Survivors Insurance 840 1,155 37
Disability Insurance 144 176 22
Medicare 707 1,032 46
Medicaid 383 493 29
Exchange subsidies and
   related spending 58 76 31
Children's Health Insurance Program 16 13 -15
Earned income, child, and etc 87 99 14
Supplemental Nutrition Assis. Prog 69 65 -6
Supplemental Security Income 51 64 24
Unemployment compensation 30 47 57
Family support and foster care 32 33 4
Child nutrition 24 30 24
Civilian Retirement 102 122 20
Military Retirement 54 70 28
Income security for Veterans 83 111 34
Agriculture  17 15 -15
Deposit insurance -14 -8 -46
MERHCF 10 13 26
Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac 0 2 NA
Higher education -4 7 NA
Discretionary Outlays
Defense 622 710 14
Non Defense 658 771 17


  1. Dear LSD. Let’s hope the economy generates bookoo income tax revenue faster than the Boomers die off and reduce consumption of Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid.