Long-Term Budget Outlook:

Saving Our Future Requires Tough Choices Today

GAO-07-342T: Published: Jan 11, 2007. Publicly Released: Jan 11, 2007.

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This testimony, given by David M. Walker, Comptroller General of the United States before the Senate Committee on the Budget, addresses the nation's long-term fiscal outlook and the challenge it presents. However, the outlook is not good. Continuing down this current fiscal path would gradually erode, if not suddenly damage, out economy, our standard of living, and ultimately even our domestic tranquility and national security. The five major points of the testimony are: (1) The current fiscal condition is worse than advertised, (2) the long-term fiscal outlook is both imprudent and unsustainable, (3) improvements in information and processes are needed and can help, (4) meeting out long-term fiscal challenge will require tough choices, bi-partisan cooperation, and compromise, and lastly (5) the time for action is now.

The specific policy choices made to address this fiscal challenge are the purview of elected officials, and the policy debate will reflect differing views on the role of government and differing priorities for this country. What can be done is laying out the facts, debunking various myths and preparing the way for tough choices by elected officials. If the American people can understand that (1) we cannot grow out way out of this problem, (2) eliminating earmarks will not solve the problem, (3) wiping out fraud, waste, and abuse will not solve the problem, (4) ending the way or cutting way back on defense will not solve the problem, and (5) letting the recent tax cuts expire will not solve this problem, they they can engage with the elected officials in a discussion about what the government should do and how.

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