But these trends start to reverse later in the decade as more members of the massive Baby Boom generation retire and draw benefits.
"In the short run, the numbers have significantly improved," said Shai Akabas, an economist at the Bipartisan Policy Center. "But that reverses in the long run because of the growing cost of the entitlement programs" such asMedicare and the Social Security retirement program.
By 2022, deficits could be back near $900 billion, according to the last CBO estimates -a trend which is not expected to change with the latest forecast unless Congress raises taxes or cuts benefits.
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"I worry if these numbers look better, it's going to lead to complacency,"said Greg Valliere, an analyst with Potomac Research Group, which advises investors on Washington politics. "The problem would be ignored for two to three years."
Budget rhetoric cools
After three years of bitter budget fights that culminated in a 16-day government shutdown over funding last October, the budget rhetoric already is cooling.
Republicans in the House of Representatives have thus far refrained from making any major demands over a debt limit increase that the U.S. Treasury maintains is needed by late February.