Below are the recurring reports we've published since 2009. These papers summarize and analyze the most important regular federal budget releases and reports.
Analysis of CBO's Budget and Economic Outlook
The Congressional Budget Office's Budget and Economic Outlook projects trends for spending and revenue for the next ten years. All legislation is estimated as to how it would change these projections.
May 2023 | Feb 2023 | May 2022 | July 2021 | Feb 2021 | Sept 2020 | March 2020 | Jan 2020 | Aug 2019 | May 2019 | Jan 2019 | April 2018 | June 2017 | Jan 2017 | Aug 2016 | March 2016 | Jan 2016 | Aug 2015 | March 2015 | Jan 2015 | Aug 2014 | April 2014 | Feb 2014 | May 2013 | Feb 2013 | Aug 2012 | March 2012 | Jan 2012 | Aug 2011 | Jan 2011 | Aug 2010 | Jan 2010
CBO's Long-Term Budget Outlook
The Congressional Budget Office takes a longer view, focusing on budget trends over the next 25 or 75 years.
Social Security Trustees' Report
The Social Security Trustees release an annual report on the health of the Social Security trust funds.
Medicare Trustees' Report
The Medicare Trustees release an annual report on the health of the Medicare trust funds.
Analysis of the President's Budget
CBO Analysis of the President's Budget
Other Helpful Items
Appropriations are annual decisions made by Congress about how the federal government spends some of its money. In general, the appropriations process addresses the discretionary portion of the budget – spending ranging from national defense to food safety to education to federal employee salaries, but excludes mandatory spending, such as Medicare and Social Security, which is spent automatically according to formulas.
Reconciliation is a special legislative process created as part of the Budget Act of 1974. It is intended to help lawmakers make the tax and mandatory spending changes necessary to meet the levels proposed in the congressional budget resolution. Our 101 provides the answers to questions such as "how do reconciliation instructions work?" or "what is the Byrd rule?" as well as explaining the implications of using reconciliation for Obamacare repeal or tax reform.
With the House and Senate recently undergoing oversight hearings of the Congressional Budget Office (CBO), it's helpful to remember what CBO is and how exactly it came about. This blog seeks to explain a few basic questions about CBO, its origin, why it's a vital part of the budget process, and how it goes about scoring legislation and forecasting budget and economic outcomes.
Congressional Budget Office reports show that our debt remains on an unsustainable path, (see our ongoing blog series) and is projected to be $1.7 trillion higher by 2024 than we previously thought. Despite the dismal fiscal picture, Congress may be considering measures to worsen the deficit, and covering their tracks with so-called "budget gimmicks." We released a chartbook, "Avoiding Budget Gimmicks," which explains and illustrates several of the tricks and slights of hand that policymakers may use to avoid identifying genuine offsets and pay-fors.
“The sequester” is an across-the-board spending cut designed in 2011 to force the Joint Select Committee on Deficit Reduction (“Supercommittee”) to agree on a broad deficit reduction package. Upon the failure of the Supercommittee, the sequester set into motion $109 billion of annual spending cuts each year from Fiscal Year 2013 (FY 2013) through FY 2021. The sequester cuts began in March of 2013 after being delayed two months by the fiscal cliff legislation (and having the FY 2013 cut lessened by $24 billion).
The Tax Break-Down, which analyzes and review tax breaks under discussion as part of tax reform.
This year, Congress made it a priority to pass a concurrent budget resolution. Both the House of Representatives and Senate passed their own budget plans at the end of March, and now they must work through the differences in the two budgets through a budget conference committee. This week, both chambers began the process and appointed conferees to serve on the committee. Below, we explain how this budget conference will work, and what it intends to accomplish.
As part of the bipartisan deal to end the government shutdown and avoid default, a budget conference was established. The purpose of this conference is to reconcile the House and Senate budget resolutions passed earlier this year, and optimally reach an agreement on government funding levels and how to set the country on a fiscally sustainable long-term path.
Currently, the national debt held by the public is about $15.8 trillion, which is around 78 percent of the country’s economy, as measured by Gross Domestic Product (GDP). The gross debt, which includes money owed to other parts of the federal government, is almost $21.5 trillion, or roughly 105 percent of GDP. Throughout history, the United States has normally maintained some amount of debt. However, with the exception of a brief period during and immediately after World War II, debt levels have never been as high as they are now. Without congressional action, debt levels will continue increasing.
On January 31, 2022, the federal government's gross debt exceeded $30 trillion for the first time. This mark serves as an important reminder of the nation's unsustainable rising national debt. At the same time, the nominal amount of gross debt is just one of a few measures of debt and is actually considered less economically meaningful than some other measures such as debt held by the public as a share of Gross Domestic Product (GDP). This explainer will lay out everything you need to know about the different measures of debt and what they mean for the government's fiscal situation.
As we’ve learned to expect, Congress seems to be waiting until the last minute to address several important fiscal priorities If lawmakers do not pass legislation to fund federal programs by the time their funding lapses, the federal government will shut down.
One issue that Congress frequently addresses is the debt ceiling, which must be raised from time to time when either the overall limit is reached or a suspension has ended. The Treasury Department often uses accounting tools at their disposal, called “extraordinary measures,” to avoid defaulting on the government’s obligations during the periods in which Congress has not raised or suspended the debt ceiling. However, these measures can only hold off action for a few months at a time, after which Congress and the President must sign some sort of debt ceiling relief or otherwise face default.
While failing to increase the debt ceiling would be dangerous and self-defeating, it would also be a mistake not to use this opportunity to address the country’s mounting debt burden. In 2011, President Obama and leaders of both chambers of Congress engaged in high-level negotiations in the hopes of agreeing on a deficit reduction package to attach to any debt ceiling increase.