They've proposed a framework that would let lawmakers avert the fiscal cliff and come up with a long-term debt reduction plan to be voted on next year.
Their framework would make a small down payment on deficit reduction phased in over 10 years but would also create a one-time income tax rebate in 2013 worth $120 billion to help support the economic recovery.
Why worry about debt when there are more immediate problems?
True, Treasury bond rates remain extremely low -- a signal that investors think the United States is a good bet in tough times. So in that sense, U.S. debt is not a problem right now.
But the reason budget experts are pushing lawmakers to decide on a long-term debt-reduction plan that takes effect gradually is this: The longer the country waits, the more onerous and sudden the changes will have to be, making it harder for Americans to adjust their plans.
"The longer action is delayed, the greater the risk that the eventual changes will be disruptive and destabilizing," the GAO notes.
And, the CBO adds, waiting too long would require sacrifices from those in or near retirement -- a group that both parties say they want to protect.