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
William G. Gale
The Arjay and Frances Fearing Miller Chair in Federal Economic Policy
Senior Fellow - Economic Studies
Director - Retirement Security Project
Co-Director - Urban-Brookings Tax Policy Center
The COVID-19 pandemic and the associated policy responses generated large federal budget deficits in recent years. The good news is that these factors are expected to have mainly short-term effects on the federal budget. The bad news is that – as the pandemic recedes, the associated policies expire, and the economy transitions to a more normal state of affairs – the government inherits a much larger national debt than was projected before the pandemic, and other fiscal parameters return more or less to their pre-COVID trajectories, which already were and still are unsustainable and will eventually require federal action. How quickly those actions are needed will depend on many factors, including the path of interest rates.
Report Produced by Urban-Brookings Tax Policy Center
The authors thank Josh Gotbaum for comments, and Swati Joshi and Nora Cahill for research assistance. Gale thanks Arnold Ventures for generous research support. The views expressed here are solely those of the authors and should not be attributed to any other person or any organization.