Democrats leave the sequester out of their calculations, preferring to replace them in their entirety. But under the rules binding the CBO, the nonpartisan agency that does economic and budget analysis for Congress, they are included in official projections.
If one adds in the sequester savings, the amount of already accomplished deficit reduction — measured over the upcoming 2014-2023 budget window — gets as high as $3.9 trillion.
The White House's math is a little different, but top advisers to Obama say much of the deficit problem is taken care of.
"We have already achieved $2.5 trillion in deficit reduction and believe achieving $1.5 trillion-$1.8 trillion more in a balanced way is the best way to hit that target," White House economic adviser Gene Sperling said in a White House online chat earlier this year. By Sperling's calculations, finding $1.2 trillion in spending cuts or new revenues to eliminate the across-the-board sequester cuts would solve most of the remaining problem.
One of the reasons for the burst of additional income tax revenues, the budget office says, is that upper-income taxpayers claimed more income late last year in order to avoid paying the higher capital gains tax rates enacted in January.
The CBO predicts that publicly held U.S. debt, currently estimated at 75 percent of gross domestic product, will shrink to 71 percent of gross domestic product over 2017-2019 before inching up again at decade's end. As recently as 2007, the budget office notes, federal debt was just 36 percent of GDP.
"Such high and rising debt later in the coming decade would have serious negative consequences," the CBO says, citing longstanding arguments that high deficits and debt reduce national saving and investment and increase the risk of a full-blown fiscal crisis.
Copyright 2013 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.