24/7 Wall St.

West side view of the United States Capitol building.The best part of any budget is the part in which its architects forecast what will happen years into the future. Nations, companies and nonprofits have five-year plans. Most of these plans are not worth the paper they are written on because the number of variables increase as the years of the forecasts extend well ahead of the present. That, in short, is what makes the Congressional Budget Office forecast for the U.S. economy and debt so absurd.

The CBO forecast is for a period of much longer than five years. Its guesses extend for 10. It assumes that the deficit will shrink to $845 billion this year, and because it is for this year, the figure is believable. The forecast that unemployment will be above 7.5% into next year probably is solid as well, based on the number of jobs the economy adds month in and month out, and has…

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