Our Nation's Fiscal Outlook: The Federal Government's Long-Term Budget Imbalance

Over the next few decades, the nation’s fiscal outlook will be shaped largely by demographics and health care costs. As the baby boom generation retires, federal spending on retirement and health programs—Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid—will grow dramatically. A range of other federal fiscal commitments, some explicit and some representing implicit public expectations, also bind the nation’s fiscal future. Absent policy change, a growing imbalance between expected federal spending and tax revenues will mean escalating and ultimately unsustainable federal deficits and debt.

To analyze and monitor changes in the long-term fiscal outlook, GAO maintains a long-term model of the federal budget. For over a decade, GAO has published the results of its long-term budget simulations in reports, testimonies, and other products. The model’s results dramatically illustrate the need for action sooner rather than later to address the long-term fiscal imbalance.

This web site presents information about the long-term fiscal outlook together with GAO’s latest simulation results.