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"The numbers are scary," said Austin Smythe, Republican staff director of the House Budget Committee.
"This is spin, and nothing more. The lower estimate is strictly the result of the administration massaging their budget assumptions," former CBO director Douglas Holtz-Eakin wrote in a memo to House Republican Leader John Boehner.
But the government's rock-bottom borrowing costs could go up as well when the economy improves and investors demand a higher rate of return. The government's retirement and healthcare expenses also are expected to explode over the coming decade as millions of Baby Boomers retire.
With congressional elections looming next year, Obama will be pressed to show he is serious about cutting costs.
Many economists think that it is unlikely the government can curtail spending, which means taxes would have to rise.