The CBO’s new budget outlook, in six charts

February 5, 2013

Exciting news, nerds. The Congressional Budget Office has just released its new budget outlook (pdf) for 2013 to 2022. Here are six big takeaways. With charts, of course.

1) The federal deficit in 2013 is expected to be under $1 trillion for the first time in five years. $845 billion to be precise. Though remember, that's assuming the sequester spending cuts — or something similar — take effect:

2) Under current law, federal debt is projected to hover around 73 percent of GDP for the next five years. That's far higher than the postwar average of 39 percent. And the debt-to-GDP ratio will then start rising again in the latter half of the decade:

3) In the next decade, both federal revenues and spending are projected to be higher than their long-term average. But they don't match up, which is why the deficit is expected to keep growing.

4) Health-care spending and interest payments on the debt are both rising as a percentage of GDP, while spending on everything else is falling. In fact, by 2020 the CBO projects that we'll be spending as much on interest payments as we are on the Pentagon's budget or on non-defense discretionary spending:

5) The economic news is bleak too. The U.S. economy isn't expected to return to its full potential until 2017.

6) Growth is expected to pick up after 2014, but U.S. unemployment will stay elevated for years to come. "As a result of that stronger economic growth, the unemployment rate in CBO’s forecast falls from 8.0 percent in the fourth quarter of 2013 to 6.8 percent in the fourth quarter of 2015 and then declines gradually to 5.5 percent in the fourth quarter of 2018."

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Sarah Kliff | February 5, 2013