Thursday, May 29, 2003
PERONET DESPEIGNES, FT.com -- The Bush administration has shelved a report commissioned by the Treasury that shows the US currently faces a future of chronic federal budget deficits totalling at least $44,200bn in current US dollars.
The study, the most comprehensive assessment of how the US government is at risk of being overwhelmed by the "baby boom" generation's future healthcare and retirement costs, was commissioned by then-Treasury secretary Paul O'Neill.
But the Bush administration chose to keep the findings out of the annual budget report for fiscal year 2004, published in February, as the White House campaigned for a tax-cut package that critics claim will expand future deficits.
Mr Gokhale, now an economist for the Cleveland Federal Reserve, said: "When we were conducting the study, my impression was that it was slated to appear [in the Budget]. At some point, the momentum builds and you think everything is a go, and then the decision came down that we weren't part of the prospective budget."
The study's analysis of future deficits dwarfs previous estimates of the financial challenge facing Washington. It is roughly equivalent to 10 times the publicly held national debt, four years of US economic output or more than 94 per cent of all US household assets. Alan Greenspan, Federal Reserve chairman, last week bemoaned what he called Washington's "deafening" silence about the future crunch.