On Wednesday, the Congressional Budget Office released its updated long-term budget forecast, which looked surprisingly like the previous version of its long-term budget forecast.
It showed, as one might expect, that if the Bush tax-cuts remain in effect and Medicare and Medicaid spending isn’t constrained in some way, the country will topple into a genuine fiscal crisis — not the fake one the Congress is pretending the country’s in right now.
Republicans, of course, seized on that particular projection, and claimed (a bit ridiculously) that it proved the government must adopt their precise policy views: major spending cuts, particularly to entitlement programs.
While all this — from the findings to the politicization of them — is perfectly expected, the forecast also presents another opportunity to remind people that the medium-term budget outlook is perfectly fine if Congress adheres to the law as it’s currently written. That means no repealing the health care law, for one, but more significantly it means allowing the Bush tax cuts to expire, and (unfathomably) allowing Medicare reimbursement rates for doctors to fall to the levels prescribed by the formula Congress wrote almost 15 years ago. In other words, no more “doc fixes.”
Helpfully, CBO juxtaposed these two alternative futures in a pair of graphs and, just as last time, it projects that deficits will disappear entirely by the end of President Obama’s second term (if he gets a second term) if Congress were to just sit on its hands and do nothing.
Take a look.
Brian Beutler is TPM's senior congressional reporter. Since 2009, he's led coverage of health care reform, Wall Street reform, taxes, the GOP budget, the government shutdown fight, and the debt limit fight. He can be reached at email@example.com.