By Peter Schroeder - 04/02/12 08:18 PM EDT
On the healthcare front, the GAO said the healthcare reform law, if implemented as intended, would have a "major effect" on that fiscal gap, but would not erase it as the population continues to age and healthcare costs climb. The amount of debt issued by the government will continue to climb under current policy, placing the government on an "unsustainable" track, according to the GAO.
Under an alternative scenario where lawmakers delay a number of pending policy changes, the debt picture is even worse. In that scenario, the Bush tax cuts and other temporary tax breaks are extended for another decade, and the automatic "trigger" cuts brought on by the failure of the supercommittee are not enacted. Revenue and discretionary spending are kept at historical averages.
In that situation, the government will pass its all-time high for debt — 109 percent in 1946 — around 2025. Under current law, the government would not clear that threshold until roughly 20 years later.