Failing to tackle our fiscal challenges now means even deeper challenges down the road

The scale of our nation’s fiscal challenges may seem daunting, but they are solvable. However, the longer we wait to address them, the harder it will be. In 2022, CBO determined that we would need spending cuts or revenue increases (or a combination) totaling 3.5 percent of GDP to stabilize our debt, if fiscal reform begins in 2027. If we wait five more years, that amount grows by 23 percent. If we wait 10 more years, it grows by 63 percent.

2023 Chart_Size of Annual Budget Changes Needed

It’s pretty simple: If we act quickly to address our debt, we’ll have more and better options to put our nation on a stable path. We’ll have more resources to invest in education, infrastructure, and research and development. And more economic opportunity for all Americans.

Take another example – making Social Security sustainable will take time, so we need to get started.  Between finding jobs and paying off student loans, retirement can seem like a far-off prospect. But the math is clear: Social Security – a mainstay of our parents’ and grandparents’ retirement – faces benefit cuts in 2034 unless policymakers enact meaningful reforms.

Four decades ago, there were over three workers paying into the system for every beneficiary who collected Social Security payments. As the population ages, the worker-to-beneficiary ratio is shrinking: By 2022, it was down to less than three workers per beneficiary, and by 2042, there will only be about two workers for every Social Security recipient.

2023 Chart_Workers Per Beneficiary Ratio
2023 Chart_Social Security if Facing Significant Cash Shortfalls

For anyone who wants to enjoy a secure retirement – and to preserve the federal government’s ability to make smart investments in education and research and development – the need to act is clear.

There’s no doubt that addressing our national debt will require tough choices. But punting on the issue won’t change the basic math – or prevent us from confronting even more difficult choices down the road. That’s why the time to come together and tackle this challenge is now – and that’s why Up to Us is working to foster creative and collaborative approaches to promote awareness of the necessity to act.