Veterans’ Disability Compensation: Trends and Policy Options

From 2000 to 2013, the number of veterans receiving VA disability payments rose by almost 55 percent to 3.5 million, and the average annualized payment rose by nearly 60 percent (after adjusting for inflation). Driving those increases were policy changes, overseas conflicts, and difficult labor market conditions during the past several years.

CBO examined possible changes to VA’s disability compensation. Some would scale back benefits while others would provide greater support to veterans.

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Competition and the Cost of Medicare's Prescription Drug Program

Spending for Medicare's prescription drug program (Part D) was $50 billion in 2013—about 50 percent less than CBO projected when the program was created. Lower growth rates in national drug spending and lower-than-expected enrollment primarily account for the difference.

The competitive design of Part D has also constrained spending. CBO found that spending was lower in years when, and in areas of the country where, more plan sponsors competed for beneficiaries.

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The Economic Effects of the President’s 2015 Budget

The President’s proposed policies would increase U.S. output (compared with what it would be under current law), mostly by changing immigration laws. Incorporating such economic effects, CBO estimates that those policies would reduce deficits relative to those under current law by a total of $1 trillion over the next decade.

The deficit projections in CBO’s April 2014 report on the budgetary effects of the President’s budget already accounted for the largest economic effects of the President’s proposals; this analysis does not significantly alter those projections.

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Debt Held by the Public, Total Spending, and Total Revenues

The 2014 Long-Term Budget Outlook

If current laws remained generally unchanged, federal debt held by the public would exceed 100 percent of GDP by 2039 and would be on an upward path relative to the size of the economy—a trend that could not be sustained indefinitely.

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The Renewable Fuel Standard: Issues for 2014 and Beyond

Using the rising amounts of different types of renewable transportation fuels required under the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) will pose significant challenges.

Two options—repealing the RFS or keeping requirements at their current levels—would have similar effects on prices for fuel and food and on greenhouse gas emissions in 2017. But requiring increasing amounts of those fuels, particularly so-called advanced biofuels, would raise fuel prices while slightly reducing emissions.

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