The next CBO director must finally tell the truth about deficits

Congress needs to do something bold about government deficits. That’s why I support President Trump’s nomination of Kevin Hassett, chairman of the White House Council of Economic Advisers, as the next head of the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office.

Hassett can make substantial progress on this issue, starting with the 2020 deficit, which could balloon to almost $1 trillion. That is more than $1,000 per American household.

Hassett can credibly explain how we will cut the deficit during this president’s second term without stifling economic growth. He will put the nation on a much firmer fiscal footing for decades.

Under Presidents George W. Bush and Barack Obama, Republicans and Democrats alike agreed that we would run at least a surplus at the end of 10 years in order to invest in education, infrastructure and tax cuts. Americans were promised trillions more in debt reduction.

When President Trump took office, most had little idea what to make of the fractious Republican Party, its policies, or the controversies that would consume the president’s attention for the next several years.

President Trump, meanwhile, promised massive tax cuts. Few expected that government would act fast enough to catch up, that the economy would keep growing, or that the president’s attitude toward deficits would change.

In the debate about the size of the deficit, all Americans have been left in the dark. That’s why I’m so excited that the next head of the CBO, whose job it is to give congressional scorekeepers economic information, will be Kevin Hassett.

The 2017 tax overhaul, part of the Republican strategy to reduce the budget deficit, produced some $1.5 trillion in added deficits over the next decade.

Republicans have repeatedly sought to extend these deficits. They didn’t get as much as they wanted in the 2017 tax cuts, but they got their fiscal agenda underway, spending money on infrastructure, curtailing Obamacare taxes, approving tax cuts for business and the wealthy, and changing the debt limits in order to spend $1.7 trillion on the military and defense, despite maintaining a significant $1.2 trillion deficit.

The CBO is now preparing to release the official score of the 2018 budget, and the results could be disastrous. President Trump’s proposal to cut safety net programs by $200 billion is projected to increase the deficit by $580 billion over the next decade.

As President Hassett said in Congressional testimony, he has a list of priorities to close the deficit gap, including spending restraint, entitlement reform, better healthcare, and aggressive tax reform.

Hassett understands the meaning of the recent recession and its impact on families and workers. It was harder for seniors, for example, than most other groups. This is perhaps the best reason he should be our next CBO director.

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