Social Security Cost Growth Should Be Slowed, Not Accelerated

President Obama recently endorsed the idea of expanding Social Security benefits. However, a broad-based benefits expansion similar to one proposed by Bernie Sanders is getting ahead of fiscal realities. The system is underfunded and benefits are already scheduled to grow substantially more generous. Lawmakers should ensure that the system can pay for currently promised benefits before making bigger promises.

Read More »

Debt Will Rise Under the Next President

Debt would rise from from today’s level under the plans of each of the three remaining presidential candidates – Secretary Clinton, Senator Sanders, and Donald Trump – though by different amounts.

Under Secretary Clinton, we estimate debt would rise to 86 percent of Gross Domestic Product (GDP) by 2026 – roughly in line with current law projections. Under Senator Sanders, we estimate debt would rise to 154 percent of GDP. Finally, under Donald Trump, debt would rise to 129 percent of GDP.

See the Image »

Updated Analysis of Bernie Sanders' Plans

We've updated our analysis of Bernie Sanders' budget plans, estimating that they would now add almost $19 trillion to the already unsustainable national debt. The total increased to incorporate the findings of two new independent estimates of Senator Sanders’s “Medicare for All” plan that find – consistent with our previous “high health cost estimate” – that his plan would cost at least twice as much as the campaign’s estimate.


Read More »

Adding Up Secretary Clinton’s Campaign Proposals So Far

Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton has proposed numerous new policies that would increase spending and expand tax breaks along with other policies that would increase taxes and reduce certain spending.  We estimate that Secretary Clinton’s proposals would cost $1.80 trillion over a decade with interest, and they would be nearly fully paid for with $1.60 trillion of offsets – primarily from taxes on high earners.

Read More »

CRFB's Blog: The Bottom Line

In addition to producing its own estimate of the budgetary effects of the President's budget, CBO typically estimates the economic effects of the budget as well, in essence producing a dynamic score of the President's proposals. This year's Macroeconomic Analysis of the President's Budget draws a similar conclusion as the previous few: the labor supply effect of immigration reform increases the size of the economy somewhat while other factors on net slightly reduce it, leaving higher Gross National Product (GNP) overall but lower GNP per capita. Overall, the budget would increase real GNP per 1 percent on average over the next ten years (and by about 2.5 percent in the last year), but GNP per capita would be about 0.7 percent lower over the same time period. Dynamic effects not already accounted for would increase deficits by $32 billion over ten years.

In a speech in Elkhart, Indiana on Wednesday, President Obama discussed retirement security, saying, "We can’t afford to weaken Social Security. We should be strengthening Social Security. And not only do we need to strengthen its long-term health, it’s time we finally made Social Security more generous, and increased its benefits so that today’s retirees and future generations get the dignified retirement that they’ve earned. And we could start paying for it by asking the wealthiest Americans to contribute a little bit more. They can afford it. I can afford it."

He did not specify what the expanded benefits or tax increases would look like, but broad-based benefit increases would not be the best use of resources and would put the cart before the horse in terms of ensuring solvency.

When the Senate considers this year's National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA), Senate Armed Services Committee Chairman John McCain (R-AZ) is expected to offer an amendment to increase authorized defense spending for fiscal year 2017 by $18 billion. Although the amendment would not technically break the discretionary spending limits because the funds would still need to be appropriated, adoption of the McCain amendment would set the stage for busting the caps in the defense appropriations bill.

Currently, Congress is debating if and how to provide emergency funding to fight the Zika virus. The President has requested $1.9 billion in emergency funding this February to fight the mosquito-borne virus, while the Senate has offered $1.1 billion in emergency funding and the House would provide $622 million of fully-offset funds.

August 6, 2015
Too often, election campaigns tell voters what they want to hear rather than what they need to know. That's why Fiscal FactCheck evaluates statements made by the 2016 presidential candidates. We also provide a nonpartisan explanation of many of their policies, and tally the fiscal effects of the candidates' plans.
June 4, 2013
CRFB's latest interactive tool "The Reformer" is a handy game that allows users to design their own Social Security plan. Users can select from a wide variety of benefit and revenue changes to make the system sustainably solvent. The tool then shows the effect on the program's finances and benefit and tax levels.

Join Our Team!

Current job opportunities at the Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget include:

  • Deputy Policy Director
  • Director of the Fiscal Institute

Learn more

CRFB Projects

The McCrery-Pomeroy SSDI Solutions Initiative is dedicated to identifying practical improvements to the Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) program. The SSDI Solutions Initiative is calling for academic papers on innovative ways to make the SSDI program better serve workers with disabilities, those who pay into the program, and the economy as a whole.

The Campaign to Fix the Debt is an unprecedented and bipartisan coalition that seeks to mobilize members of business, government, and policy communities to urge Congress and the President to enact a comprehensive debt deal.

There is a growing consensus that the budget process is broken. The Better Budget Process Initiative will put forward specific options to reform and improve the budget process in a wide range of areas, including increasing focus on the long-term fiscal outlook, improving the process for dealing with the debt limit, strengthening statutory budget enforcement, revising the content and structure of the budget resolution, moving to biennial budgeting, and addressing treatment of tax expenditures in the budget process.