Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Can Budget Offices Help Us Address Demographic Pressure?

As part of his series "The Government We Deserve" the Urban Institute's Gene Steuerle asks "Can Budget Offices Help Us Address Demographic Pressure?"

As pressures mount on the nation's long-term budget, the Congressional Budget Office now views the aging of the population as the main stressor and health care costs as a close second. Yet, CBO and the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) have traditionally offered only limited analysis and estimates on addressing these demographic concerns, often leaving them to the Social Security Administration, which focuses only on the Social Security piece of the budget puzzle.

Accordingly, when groups like the president's budget commission meet, they get too few options on how government might adjust to the two distinct forces mistakenly put under a single "aging" banner: (1) longer lives and (2) fewer children (new workers) than previous generations. For better and often worse, reform groups frequently stack up reforms by their budget impact. But where there's no estimate, there's no political traction and, alas, no action.

If we want real budget reform, we need to get over this hurdle.

Click here to read how.

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