Sources of the Long-Term Fiscal Gap

Alan J. Auerbach,
Alan Auerbach Headshot
Alan J. Auerbach Robert D. Burch Professor of Economics and Law - Economics Department, UC-Berkeley, Director - Robert D. Burch Center for Tax Policy and Public Finance
Peter R. Orszag, and
Peter R. Orszag Vice Chairman of Investment Banking, Managing Director, and Global Co-Head of Healthcare - Lazard
William G. Gale
William G. Gale The Arjay and Frances Fearing Miller Chair in Federal Economic Policy, Senior Fellow - Economic Studies, Co-Director - Urban-Brookings Tax Policy Center

May 24, 2004


Over a permanent horizon, the fiscal gap now exceeds 7 percent of GDP under the CBO baseline and 10 percent of GDP under an adjusted baseline, substantially higher than a year ago. Allocating the fiscal gap to different programs is not straightforward, though. Most government programs are intended to be financed out of general revenue, and alternative, reasonable ways of allocating general revenue generate very different allocations of the fiscal gap across programs. In addition, focusing on a program-by-program basis tends to obscure the role of tax policy in generating a fiscal gap.