Projecting the Future of Federal Finances: Long-Term Fiscal Simulations

Posted on April 10, 2015
Since 1992, we have prepared long-term fiscal simulations to show federal deficits and debt under different sets of policy assumptions. Our latest update shows that the federal government continues to face a long-term fiscal sustainability challenge. Specifically, all of our simulations show that
  • a fundamental imbalance between revenue and spending over the long term leads to continuous growth in debt as a share of gross domestic product, which is unsustainable;
  • an aging population and rising health care costs largely drive increases in federal spending; and
  • delaying action to address these problems increases the risk that the eventual changes will be disruptive and destabilizing to the economy and individuals.
Listen to our podcast with Susan J. Irving, a director in GAO’s Strategic Issues team, who led the recent update. Missing media item.   Understanding fiscal exposures—programs that may expose the fiscal exposure infographic thumbnailgovernment to future spending—can help decision makers and the public understand which actions could help address the growing federal debt. Check out our infographic explaining these risks, and explore the updated fiscal outlook site for the underlying assumptions, data, key reports, and more.