The nation cannot sustain its spending and policies with the same level of tax revenues it has been accustomed to, the director of the non-partisan Congressional Budget Office said in testimony Tuesday to the joint deficit committee.
“Citizens will either have to pay more for their government, accept less in government services and benefits, or both,” said the CBO’s Douglas Elmendorf, according to remarks prepared by the first expert witness invited to testify to the panel.
That’s a view that may seem basic or rudimentary, given all of the attention on the country’s high unemployment, unease over the federal government’s debt, and the launching of the so-called super committee of 12 lawmakers charged with recommending at least $1.2 trillion in spending cuts by Thanksgiving.
But Elmendorf’s testimony comes at a time of keen political disagreements over what needs to be done both short-term and longer-term to tackle that debt and joblessness—including between the six Republicans and Democrats from both the House and Senate on the deficit panel. Elmendorf is the latest to suggest that a more-balanced approach may be preferable—one combining spending cuts with some new revenues or tax increases.