Addendum: No Silver Bullet

Paths for Reducing the Federal Debt


In September 2010, the Pew Fiscal Analysis Initiative released "No Silver Bullet: Paths for Reducing the Federal Debt", which analyzed the implications of rising federal debt and modeled different remedies for reducing it to 60 percent of gross domestic product (GDP) in fiscal years 2025 or 2035 Since then, the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) has updated its 10-year projections to reflect the most recent economic data as well as the cost of new legislation enacted after August 2010. 

Using the latest CBO data and certain revised assumptions, Pew's new projections estimate that, absent any corrective action, publicly held federal debt will reach 111 percent of GDP by 2025, the highest level in American history. Reducing the debt in 2025 to sustainable levels by only cutting discretionary spending would now require a 70 percent across the board cut in 2016 (the earlier report showed that a 43 percent cut was required in 2015). By contrast, if all spending and taxes were on the table and adjusted equally, the new required permanent spending cut and tax hike would be about 12 percent across the board in 2016 (7.5 percent in 2015 in the earlier report).

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Downloads Full Report

Spotlight on Mental Health

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Learn the Basics of Broadband from Our Limited Series

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How does broadband internet reach our homes, phones, and tablets? What kind of infrastructure connects us all together? What are the major barriers to broadband access for American communities?

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What Is Antibiotic Resistance—and How Can We Fight It?

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Antibiotic-resistant bacteria, also known as “superbugs,” are a major threat to modern medicine. But how does resistance work, and what can we do to slow the spread? Read personal stories, expert accounts, and more for the answers to those questions in our four-week email series: Slowing Superbugs.

Explore Pew’s new and improved
Fiscal 50 interactive

Your state's stats are more accessible than ever with our new and improved Fiscal 50 interactive:

  • Maps, trends, and customizable charts
  • 50-state rankings
  • Analysis of what it all means
  • Shareable graphics and downloadable data
  • Proven fiscal policy strategies


Welcome to the new Fiscal 50

Key changes include:

  • State pages that help you keep track of trends in your home state and provide national and regional context.
  • Interactive indicator pages with highly customizable and shareable data visualizations.
  • A Budget Threads feature that offers Pew’s read on the latest state fiscal news.

Learn more about the new and improved Fiscal 50.