Letter to the Honorable Paul Ryan
CBO issued the spring update to its 10-year baseline projections in May this year—rather than in March, as it usually does—because the President’s budget was released much later than usual, and data that accompany that budget are useful for the preparation of our multiyear budget projections. That change to the usual schedule will affect what reports we produce and when we produce them during the remainder of the year.
Specifically, in the past few years, CBO has released its long-term budget projections in June. Because those long-term projections are based on the agency’s 10-year projections, the delay in our spring update to May has pushed the long-term projections onto a later schedule. We now expect to release this year’s long-term projections in September.
In addition, every two years, CBO prepares a report on spending and revenue options for reducing the deficit. This year we plan to issue that report in October.
There is a more significant change involving the update to CBO’s 10-year budget and economic projections that we usually issue in August. Because CBO’s spring update to the 10-year budget projections was done so recently and because the agency is facing many demands on its limited resources—for analyses of major immigration legislation, for example—CBO will not issue new budget and economic projections in August. The short time span between the issuance of the spring update and a possible August update means that relatively little additional information about budgetary developments would be available that might justify changes in the projections, and as of now, we see no evidence of such developments that would call for significant changes in our projections. In addition, the economic data that have become available since our previous projections do not suggest that significant changes in our economic projections are warranted. CBO will keep the Congress apprised if any significant differences arise between economic conditions and our previous forecast.
The lack of an August update will not affect CBO’s cost estimates for legislation. In previous years, the August projections have provided background information for the Congress—but for enforcing budget rules and targets, the Congress’s long-standing practice has been to rely on CBO’s estimates of the cost of legislation relative to the budget projections issued in the spring (even after August projections are published).
As always, we are making every effort to provide the Congress with the information and analysis that it needs to make the critical decisions that it faces, and given the unusual circumstances that prevail this year, we believe that this plan is the best way to attain that goal.