Options for Reducing the Deficit: 2017 to 2026
CBO periodically issues a volume of options—this year’s installment presents 115—that would decrease federal spending or increase federal revenues over the next decade. The report is available both as a PDF and in a searchable format.
The Congress faces an array of policy choices as it confronts the challenges posed by the amount of federal debt held by the public—which has more than doubled relative to the size of the economy since 2007—and the prospect of continued growth in that debt over the coming decades if the large annual budget deficits projected under current law come to pass. To help inform lawmakers, CBO periodically issues a compendium of policy options that would help to reduce the deficit. This edition reports the estimated budgetary effects of various options and highlights some of the advantages and disadvantages of those options.
This volume presents 115 options that would decrease federal spending or increase federal revenues over the next decade. The options included in this volume come from various sources. Some are based on proposed legislation or on the budget proposals of various Administrations; others come from Congressional offices or from entities in the federal government or in the private sector. The options cover many areas—ranging from defense to energy, Social Security, and provisions of the tax code. The budgetary effects identified for most of the options span the 10 years from 2017 to 2026 (the period covered by CBO’s March 2016 baseline budget projections), although many of the options would have longer-term effects as well.
Summary Table of Options
For options affecting primarily mandatory spending or revenues, savings sometimes would derive from changes in both. When that is the case, the savings shown include effects on both mandatory spending and revenues. For options affecting primarily discretionary spending, the savings shown are the decrease in discretionary outlays. That same approach applies for the savings shown for health options; most are mandatory spending options or revenue options, although 14, 15, and 16 are discretionary spending options.
a. Savings do not encompass all budgetary effects.
Corrections and Updates
Before this report was released online but after it was printed, CBO made a minor correction to Mandatory Spending, Option 9; the correction is noted on page 30. CBO then reposted the report on December 13, 2016, with a correction to Mandatory Spending, Option 4, that is noted on page 20.