Senators John Thune (R-S.D.) and Tim Kaine (D-Va.) today introduced a bipartisan bill to provide for detailed analyses of how Congressional budgets and major pieces of new legislation would impact future generations. Thune and Kaine’s bill, the Intergenerational Financial Obligations Reform (INFORM) Act, would also require the president to provide a detailed accounting of how the administration’s budget would affect young people. The bill would ensure that Congress and the administration have the tools necessary to better evaluate the effect that changes in taxes, spending policies, and future economic advancements will have on the fiscal health of the country and on individual Americans 20, 50, or even 75 years down the road. It would also require the Congressional Budget Office and the Government Accountability Office to provide an annual analysis of the long-term impact high levels of debt will have on future generations. Senators Rob Portman (R-Ohio) and Chris Coons (D-Del.) are original cosponsors of this legislation.
This approach, which is known as a generational accounting and fiscal gap analysis, would examine the full scope of the government’s obligations, present and future, and then look at the effect those obligations will have on current and future generations.
“For too long, politicians have kicked the can down the road by relying on deficit spending to pay for growth in government, and today’s young people face a mounting burden of debt that will have to be repaid,” said Thune. “Young Americans in their 20s and 30s, and the generations who will follow them, are already facing the near certainty of higher taxes and lower benefits as a result of the debt we’ve piled up. It is far past time that young adults have a voice in Washington and it starts with Congress being transparent about the long-term impacts of budgets and major legislation.”
“As we look to make tough budget decisions, more information is critical to making prudent fiscal choices,” said Kaine. “A better understanding of the long term impacts of changes in the economy, or new spending and tax policies, will help us evaluate these programs with the important perspective of how those decisions will affect future generations, not just our own.”Under current practice, Congress is typically only provided with information about the budgetary impacts of spending and policy decisions over the next 10 years. Thune and Kaine’s bill would allow Congress and the administration to look at the effect that changes in the economy, or in spending or taxes would have on Americans 20, 50, or even 75 years down the road. The concept of generational accounting was originally proposed in the 1990s and was used as a budget analysis tool during the parts of the George H.W. Bush administration and Clinton administration.