What CBO’s Projections Represent
The long-term projections of federal spending, revenues, deficits, and debt in this report are consistent with the 10-year baseline budget projections that CBO published earlier this month, which incorporate the effects of legislation enacted through August 4, 2020, and the economic forecast that the agency published in July 2020.1 Those projections incorporate the budgetary and economic effects of the 2020 coronavirus pandemic and associated measures taken to limit in-person interactions. They also reflect the economic and budgetary effects of laws enacted to address the public health emergency and to support households, businesses, and state and local governments.2 In CBO’s assessment, the economic effects of those laws will partially offset the deterioration in economic conditions brought about by the pandemic.3
CBO’s long-term projections extend most of the concepts underlying its 10-year budget projections for an additional 20 years, and they reflect the macroeconomic effects of projected fiscal policy over that 30-year period. Together, those long-term projections constitute the agency’s extended baseline projections.4
CBO’s 10-year and extended baseline projections are not predictions of budgetary outcomes. Rather, they represent the agency’s best assessment of future spending, revenues, deficits, and debt under these assumptions:
- Current laws affecting revenues and spending generally remain unchanged;
- Some programs—for example, the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP)—are nevertheless extended after their authorizations lapse; and
- Spending for Medicare and Social Security continues as scheduled even after their trust funds are exhausted.
In making those assumptions, which are specified in law, CBO produces its baseline projections to give lawmakers a point of comparison from which to measure the effects of policy options or proposed legislation.