CBO Report Finds National Deficit Will Exceed $100B in 2002, Could Affect Government Health Spending
A new finding by the Congressional Budget Office that the national deficit will exceed $100 billion for 2002 could "squeeze money for the government's health care programs," the Wall Street Journal reports. The nonpartisan report indicated that through May of the current fiscal year, which ends Sept. 30, the national deficit was $149 billion, a stark contrast from the $137 billion surplus for the same period last year. According to the report, $125 billion of the $286 billion "swing" can be attributed to higher government spending, including a 10.7% increase in spending on Medicare and Medicaid. William Hoagland, GOP staff director for the Senate Budget Committee, noted that Congress is attempting to pass a costly Medicare prescription drug benefit "at the same time that the core program is exploding." While the shortfall is not yet "large ... by historical standards" -- the CBO projects the deficit could reach approximately 9.4% of projected federal spending in fiscal year 2003, compared to a deficit of more than 25% of federal spending just after former President Reagan's tax cut in 1983 -- political "fingerpointing" has begun, and the issue is expected to become "huge" in the fall elections (McKinnon, Wall Street Journal, 6/17).This is part of the California Healthline Daily Edition, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.