All the estimates assume lawmakers will not rewrite any tax laws and let spending grow only at the rate of inflation.
Because tax and spending changes are inevitable, the forecasts are not meant as a prediction. Rather, they provide lawmakers with a baseline from which to measure the effect their policies would have on the budget.
Many analysts say the budget office's deficit projections will probably prove too low -- especially in the long-term -- because they omit expenses the president and Congress are likely to approve.
These include making at least some tax cuts permanent, changing the alternative minimum tax so it doesn't affect growing number of middle-income earners, and spending increases for popular programs or unforeseen needs like war or disasters.
Best New Blog finalist - 2003 Koufax Awards
A non-violent, counter-dominant, left-liberal, possibly charismatic, quasi anarcho-libertarian Quaker's take on politics, volleyball, and other esoterica.
Lo alecha ha-m'lacha ligmor, v'lo atah ben chorin l'hibateyl mimenah.