At a press breakfast this morning, Dean Baker and David Walker, the head of the Government Accountability Office, exchanged views on the long-term deficit problem. Mr. Walker discussed the unsustainability of the current budget path and stressed the need for long-term accounting and budget controls as well as a need for a national debate over priorities. In response, Dean emphasized the unsustainable growth in health care spending, both government and private.

Citing the Congressional Budget Office, Dean argued that fixing our broken health care system would make the future path for government spending manageable. Alternatively, if the health care system is not fixed, health will impose an enormous economic burden, regardless of whether the government chooses to pay for it or not. Mr. Walker agreed that health care spending was the most important factor affecting long-term deficit projections. See Dean's papers: Medicare Choice Plus, the Answer to the Long-Term Deficit Problem and The Forty-Four Trillion Dollar Deficit Scare for further information on the topic.