The big debate these days is when to move away from stimulus spending and toward cutting deficits.
But the debate is only about the when: Everybody agrees that some combination of higher taxes and lower spending needs to come sooner or later.
The latest long-term forecast is out today from the CBO. It's a reminder that, unless something changes, rising federal deficits in the coming years will be driven largely by government spending on health care.
(It's also a reminder that the big health-care bill didn't do much to change the basic economics of health care in this country — CBO estimates from last year look pretty much the same.)
A few graphs from the report tell the story.
First, here's government health-care spending as a share of GDP.
Of course, an aging population is bound to drive higher health-care costs. But, as the next graph shows, it's not just aging — it's also the fact that the cost of health care is rising faster than the cost of almost everything else.
Finally, here's a graph that shows the government's revenues (the dotted line) versus costs, over time. The CBO uses different models for these estimates; the estimate below is based on a model that "incorporates several changes to current law that are widely expected to occur."