GAO was asked to provide its views on the long-term fiscal outlook. This statement addresses four key points: (1) the federal government's long-term fiscal outlook is a matter of utmost concern; (2) this challenge is driven primarily by health care cost growth; (3) reform of health care is essential but other areas also need attention which requires a multipronged solution; and (4) the federal government faces increasing pressures yet a shrinking window of opportunity for phasing in needed adjustments. GAO's simulations of the federal government's long-term fiscal outlook were updated with the Trustees 2008 intermediate projections and continue to indicate that the long-term outlook is unsustainable. This update combined with GAO's analysis of the fiscal outlook of state and local governments demonstrates that the fiscal challenges facing all levels of government are linked and should be considered in a strategic and integrated manner. Since 1992, GAO has published long-term fiscal simulations of what might happen to federal deficits and debt levels under varying policy assumptions. GAO developed its long-term model in response to a bipartisan request from Members of Congress who were concerned about the longterm effects of fiscal policy. Information about GAO's model and assumptions can be found at http://www.gao.gov/special.pubs/longterm/.
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