The Better Budget Process Initiative: Improving Focus on the Long-Term

The short-term emphasis in the budget process is the result of both an overreliance on ten-year budget windows for scoring and analysis, and insufficient enforcement of long-term fiscal goals. Modifying the rules governing the budget process could be a powerful tool to help correct this myopic thinking. We suggest several possible remedies in our latest paper.

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Fiscal Speed Bumps: Challenges, Risks, and Opportunities

Lawmakers will soon face a number of important budget related deadlines, or Fiscal Speed Bumps, that require legislative action.  Addressed irresponsibly, they could cause serious disruptions and/or add as much as $3 trillion to the debt over the next decade. But if dealt with thoughtfully, they offer an opportunity to pursue reforms.

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Energy and Commerce Holds Hearings on SGR

The House Energy and Commerce (E&C) Health Subcommittee held hearings on the Sustainable Growth Rate (SGR) formula for Medicare physician payments. Set to cut those payments by 21 percent in April 2015 when the latest "doc fix" runs out, the SGR will be one of the first "Fiscal Speed Bumps" the new Congress will confront this year. Fixing it permanently could cost at least $140 billion through 2025. Click here to read our plan for addressing SGR.

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Will Falling Gas Prices Lead to a Long-Term Highway Solution?

Interest in increasing the gas tax appears to be heating up as policymakers realize the Highway Trust Fund is running on fumes, and an upcoming Fiscal Speed Bump offers the opportunity to change that. At the end of May, the latest highway bill will expire, and lawmakers will have to find a way to plug the $15 billion annual gap between highway spending and revenue. Learn more about fixing the Highway Trust Fund here.

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CRFB's Blog: The Bottom Line

Today we released a new paper as part of our Better Budget Process Initiative called "Improving Focus on the Long Term"

The budget process focuses on the short term, often at the expense of longer-term considerations. This distortion allows policies to be crafted in ways that mask their true costs, and produces results that downplay looming fiscal challenges.

January 23, 2015
Brookings Event Discusses Effect of the Sequester

The biggest piece of deficit reduction that lawmakers have accomplished so far is the series of caps on annually appropriated discretionary spending through 2021. The Budget Control Act specified spending caps that would reduce spending by more than $750 billion over ten years. It also put in place a sequester which would further reduce those caps by roughly $90 billion per year if the Super Committee did not agree on $1.2 trillion of deficit reduction. The Super Committee did indeed fail, and the sequester went into effect in March 2013. After partial sequester relief in 2014 and 2015, the discretionary cuts will return in full force in fiscal year (FY) 2016. As a result, discretionary spending will fall to a record low share of GDP in ten years, though technically FY 2016 will have slightly larger nominal discretionary spending.

With the sequester hanging over the appropriations process, the Brookings Institution held an event last week discussing the sustainability of these caps.

The House Energy and Commerce Health Subcommittee today held the first of two hearing on the Sustainable Growth Rate (SGR) formula for Medicare physician payments. The SGR is set to cut those payments by 21 percent in April 2015 when the latest "doc fix" runs out, making it one of the earlier "Fiscal Speed Bumps" lawmakers will confront this year. Fixing it permanently could cost at least $140 billion through 2025.

January 22, 2015
CRFB Releases Budget Resolution Principles

Yesterday, the Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget released a one-page list of principles to help guide policymakers in crafting a budget resolution this spring. CRFB called on Congress to follow regular order by agreeing to a budget resolution conference report that lays out a framework for pursuing priorities and addressing issues in a fiscally responsible manner before making major decisions on spending or revenues.

June 4, 2013
CRFB's latest interactive tool "The Reformer" is a handy game that allows users to design their own Social Security plan. Users can select from a wide variety of benefit and revenue changes to make the system sustainably solvent. The tool then shows the effect on the program's finances and benefit and tax levels.
September 27, 2011
If you've ever wanted to design your own corporate tax reform, now you can with our new Interactive Tax Reform Calculator. There is no question that the U.S. corporate tax system is badly in need of reform, and leaders in both parties have been pursuing this goal.

CRFB Projects

The McCrery-Pomeroy SSDI Solutions Initiative is dedicated to identifying practical improvements to the Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) program. The SSDI Solutions Initiative is calling for academic papers on innovative ways to make the SSDI program better serve workers with disabilities, those who pay into the program, and the economy as a whole.

The Campaign to Fix the Debt is an unprecedented and bipartisan coalition that seeks to mobilize members of business, government, and policy communities to urge Congress and the President to enact a comprehensive debt deal.

The Moment of Truth (MOT) project is a non-profit, non-partisan effort that seeks to foster honest discussion about the nation’s fiscal challenges, the difficult choices that must be made to solve them, and the potential for bipartisan compromise that can move the debate forward and set our country on a sustainable path.