Debt panel hears grim fiscal report

first_imgWASHINGTON — Members of Congress’ bipartisan deficit-cutting “supercommittee” tasked with finding $1.5 trillion in deficit reduction by Thanksgiving got a sobering assessment Tuesday of the daunting task ahead.“The nation cannot continue to sustain the spending programs and policies of the past with the tax revenues it has been accustomed to paying,” testified Douglas Elmendorf, director of the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office. “Citizens will either have to pay more for their government, accept less in government services and benefits, or both.”With Elmendorf as its guide, the committee of six Democrats and six Republicans from the House of Representatives and the Senate was given a tour of the nation’s economic landscape. It wasn’t a pretty picture.Elmendorf warned that if current policies don’t change, the combination of the nation’s aging population and escalating health care costs will drive federal spending well past the revenues that the federal government collects. This year’s deficit alone is estimated at $1.3 trillion.His bleak assessment was accompanied by a dismal CBO economic forecast that the weak economy will keep the unemployment rate around 9 percent through the end of 2012.last_img read more