US Social Security, health spending to hit $3.2 trillion a year
A report from the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office did not put forth a plan to resolve the long-term imbalance between revenues and spending on retirement and healthcare benefits. But it said that action taken now would help minimize the economic impact of whatever course lawmakers can agree on.
"Unless the laws governing these programs are changed - or the increased spending is accompanied by corresponding reductions in other spending, sufficiently higher tax revenues, or a combination of the two - debt will rise sharply relative to (the US economy) after 2023," the CBO warned.
The report, CBO's latest on the US budget and economic outlook, comes as President Barack Obama and Congress prepare for a showdown over the federal deficit in coming months.
"Deciding now what policy changes to make to resolve that long-term imbalance would allow for gradual implementation, which would give households, businesses and state and local governments time to plan and adjust their behavior," CBO said.
The agency estimated last June that Social Security and federal health programs would account for more than one-quarter of US gross domestic product by 2037 unless laws were changed.
Federal spending for Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid stood at $1.6 trillion in 2012, with healthcare spending alone at $885 billion.
CBO predicts that annual outlays for those programs alone will top
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