The fiscal transactions of the federal government are recorded in two major sets of accounts that are conceptually quite different. One is The Budget of the United States Government, prepared by the Office of Management and Budget. It is the framework generally used by executive branch agencies and the Congress and is the presentation of the federal government’s budgetary activity that is most often discussed in the press. The other set of accounts is the national income and product accounts (NIPAs), produced by the Department of Commerce’s Bureau of Economic Analysis.
The purposes served by the budget and the NIPAs and the relationship between the two sets of accounts are examined briefly below and more thoroughly in previous publications of the Congressional Budget Office. CBO recently reported its latest baseline projections of federal revenues and outlays using the standard structure for budget accounting. This report presents those projections using the NIPA framework and shows how the two presentations differ.
Over the 2015–2025 projection period spanned by CBO’s baseline, conceptual differences cause receipts in the NIPAs to be greater than revenues in the budget by about 5 percent and expenditures in the NIPAs to exceed outlays in the budget by about 8 percent. Projected expenditures in the NIPAs exceed projected receipts by a total of $9.4 trillion, whereas deficits in CBO’s baseline budget projections total $7.4 trillion.