CBO Forecast: There's Good News And Bad News
The nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office is giving both Republican and Democratic partisans fresh fodder for the talking points they've already staked out on the economy.
The country's gross domestic product, according to its new report, will grow at just 1.5 percent this year — proof, say Republicans, that President Obama and Senate Democrats have been unable to bring the country out of recession.
At the same time, the per patient spending in Medicare actually decreased in the past year, a phenomenon CBO Director Douglas Elmendorf called "striking" — proof, say Democrats, that the cost-control measures in the Affordable Care Act are working, despite the GOP-led House's attempts to repeal the law.
Thursday's report is one of CBO's periodic forecasts about the federal budget and the economy. The group created a stir in February, when it projected that Obamacare would shrink the labor force because people would no longer feel compelled to work for an employer solely for access to health insurance.
Nothing quite as dramatic emerges from the new report, but it does contain a number of interesting tidbits.
Among those useful to Republicans:
And among the nuggets Democrats can use:
Thursday's report does point out that, as a matter of policy, the CBO assumes existing law remains existing law when it develops its forecasts — even a law that is likely to change before the end of the year, like a package of tax breaks known as the "extenders."
Congress is almost certain to pass the dozens of large and small provisions benefiting businesses and individuals before its term expires in January, and when it does so, it will add about $100 billion a year to the deficit.
As these breaks are supported by both parties, neither party is likely to dwell on their cost.
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