On Monday, the House and Senate completed a conference report on the first "minibus" appropriations bill, which includes the Agriculture, Commerce-Justice-Science, and Transportation-HUD bills. The bills would spend a total of $128 billion and, more importantly, the package included a Continuing Resolution (CR) that will keep the rest of government funded through December 16. The conference report found opposition among conservatives because of a provision that would increase the Federal Housing Administration's loan limit from $625,000 to $729,750 and the fact that overall spending levels were above the House budget resolution. However, the conference report easily cleared both chambers on Thursday and is on the way to President Obama's desk for signature.
What happens now that the minibus/CR combination has passed is less certain. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) attempted to create a second minibus consisting of the Energy-Water, State-Foreign Operations, and Financial Services bills, but he was blocked earlier in the week from doing so. Even if another minibus is created, it could be bogged down by numerous riders related to, for example, attempts to repeal the Dodd-Frank Act. In addition to the second minibus, Reid has also promised to bring the Defense appropriations bill, which has already passed the House, to the floor.
Considering the one month timeframe, the Thanksgiving recess, and the snag that the second minibus has already hit--not to mention other things that Congress will have to deal with in December--it is very likely that the remaining nine bills will be wrapped into one package. It will be a tough negotiation since appropriations bills like Labor-HHS-Education and Financial Services are sure to invite policy riders and bitter fights over funding of the Affordable Care Act and Dodd-Frank, among other things. Still, there is a concerted effort by members of Congress to get these bills done so they aren't fighting battles over this year's budget well into next calendar year, and as the election season heats up.
This process may not be how the budget process would work ideally, but at least it's being used, unlike last year.
|Status of Appropriations Bills|
|Bill||House Status||Senate Status|
|Agriculture||Passed Full Congress||Passed Full Congress|
|Commerce-Justice-Science||Passed Full Congress||Passed Full Congress|
|Transportation-HUD||Passed Full Congress||Passed Full Congress|
|Defense||Passed||Passed by Committee|
|Energy-Water||Passed||Passed by Committee|
|Homeland Security||Passed||Passed by Committee|
|Legislative Branch||Passed||Passed by Committee|
|Financial Services||Passed by Committee||Passed by Committee|
|Interior-Environment||Passed by Committee||No Action|
|Labor-HHS-Education||No Action||Passed by Committee|
|State-Foreign Operations||Passed by Subcommittee||Passed by Committee|
Today, Senators Mark Kirk (R-IL) and Joe Manchin (D-WV) called for a "Sense of the Senate" resolution pushing for Congress to "Go Big" on deficit reduction using the framework of the Simpson-Bowles proposal. The resolution is a non-binding agreement that a "Go Big" approach needs to be taken towards deficit reduction. While this may seem more trivial than effectual, it indicates a necessary commitment to solving our long-run fiscal problems. Adding to a letter from 45 Senators calling for a Go Big deficit reduction package, the resolution aims to express and solidify the common sentiment in the Senate in favor of such a package.
The resolution makes note of a variety of crucial points central to a "Go Big" approach. Namely, the elevated level of our current public debt (over $10 trillion), the historic downgrade of U.S. credit rating by S&P, the availability of frameworks for large-scale reduction packages, and the existence of the powerful Super Committee. These factors -- together with the already existing support for "Go Big" by business leaders, budget experts, leading economists, and politicians -- form the basis for these two Senators' proposed resolution.
These resolutions recognize the need for a deficit-reduction package which will stabilize our long term debt and begin to put debt-growth on a downward path. The resolution calls for at least $4 trillion in savings, while promoting economic growth and job recovery in the short-run and basing long-run fiscal reforms on the principles of shared sacrifice and compromise. However, the resolution also rightly recognizes that this is only possible by addressing the long-run growth in costs of entitlement programs and by enacting pro-growth, deficit-reducing tax reform.
Here's to hoping that the Super Committee and other members of Congress heed these calls and indeed "Go Big".
The Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget and many others have called on the Super Committee to find two or three times its mandated $1.5 trillion in budget savings. If the Super Committee is unable to agree on all the details before its November 23 deadline around the corner, we hope it will set the stage for continued efforts early next year to "Go Big" in order to keep the momentum going and put serious reforms in place.
In a new analysis yesterday, CRFB urges the Super Committee to recommend a two-stage process if they don't have the time to reach agreement on all the technical details of serious entitlement and tax reforms. (This would technically represent a third stage if the Budget Control Act counts as the first stage, but we'll refer to it as a second stage). If such a process is used, it should include several elements, including a serious downpayment on savings and strong enforcement, to prove it's real and credible and to ensure that additional savings will materialize. We discuss several different possible methods, including that the Super Committee could recommend that Congress continue or reconfigure the Super Committee. But the ultimate goal needs to be another $4 trillion in savings.
As we argue in the analysis:
- Go Big: Achieve savings large enough to stabilize and reduce the debt as a share of the economy;
- Include a large and meaningful down payment;
- Include a detailed framework for the second stage;
- Put in place an expedited process to achieve additional savings within the next three to six months, with fast-track status;
- Allow for the consideration of other plans if larger plan is not adopted;
- Establish a credible enforcement mechanism to ensure the required savings are achieved.
Click here to read the full paper on how a two-stage process would work.
With the deadline for the Super Committee to come to an agreement nearly here, the Moment of Truth Project, a project of CRFB, has released two new policy papers diving deeper into the Fiscal Commission's recommendations on how to reform federal retirement programs and Medicare cost-sharing rules. These areas of the budget can be a critical element in forging a bipartisan deal that requires shared sacrifice from everyone. In addition, the cost-sharing reforms have the potential to help bend the health care cost curve down over the long-term, which is something that policymakers need to focus on.
The first analysis, A Closer Look at the Fiscal Commission's Cost-Sharing Recommendations, provides the policy and budgetary rationale for reforming Medicare cost-sharing and restricting the amount of cost-sharing that supplemental insurance, or Medigap plans, can cover. The analysis takes a look at ways to increase cost-sharing in the TRICARE for Life program and the Federal Employee's Health Benefits (FEHB) Program based on the recommendations put forward by the Fiscal Commission last year. Together, these proposals would save about $192 billion in federal health care spending over ten years. The analysis also shows how reforming cost-sharing rules and Medigap plans can actually benefit most beneficiaries of these programs in addition to helping reduce deficits and debt.
The second paper, Shared Sacrifice: Reforming Federal Retirement Programs, details the Fiscal Commission's approach to restructuring federal civilian and military retirement benefits so that they are more in line with those offered in the private sector. Currently, the private sector receives less generous pension and retirement benefits than seen in the public sector. The reforms discussed in this paper would save $70 billion over ten years to help bring retirement benefits within the private and public sectors more in line. Additionally, military retirement needs to be reformed so that more people are eligible for benefits in a way that better targets limited resources, protects our national security, and allows more members of the military to receive retirement benefits.
And don't forget about the analysis the Moment of Truth project released earlier this year, Measuring Up: The Case for the Chained CPI.
Visit the Moment of Truth project's website at www.momentoftruthproject.org.
CRFB president Maya MacGuineas just wrote an essay featured in the Ripon Forum. She writes that the debate over whether the "debt crisis" or the "jobs crisis" is more important misses the point that they are not mutually exclusive and that we can do both at the same time. She argues that debt reduction is a critical element of any economic growth strategy. She states that the best option to create a stronger economy and to avoid the risk of a fiscal crisis is a comprehensive, multi-year fiscal plan that stabilizes and reduces debt as a share of the economy.
The solution, which has been laid out by Ben Bernanke of the Federal Reserve, Christine Lagarde at the International Monetary Fund, and Erskine Bowles and Alan Simpson and the President’s Fiscal Commission, to name a few, is instead a multi-year, comprehensive fiscal plan that would set the budget on a glide path to stabilize the debt, but leave enough fiscal space up front keep to pushing the economy along.
Putting in place a deficit reduction plan to bring the debt back down to around 60 or 65 percent of GDP over a decade (still significantly higher than the historic average of below 40 percent, but more manageable at least) creates the opportunity to grow the economy in a number of ways that will not be achieved either through one-off stimulus measures or incremental spending cuts.
...First, it would take off the table the risk of a fiscal crisis. I know that only a few years ago, comparing the U.S. to Greece seemed inflammatory and absurd. However, recent events – including the well-deserved downgrade and the paralysis of our political system – now show the possibility of a full-blown fiscal crisis to be not nearly as remote as we would have liked to believe. Only by charting a new fiscal course will we remove that risk.
Second, implementing fiscal reforms that are comprehensive in nature, rather than incremental, offers the opportunity to restructure our budget and tax systems in ways to promote growth. The key here is switching from a consumption-oriented to an investment-oriented budget.
Click here to read the full essay.
"My Views" are works published by members of the Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget, but they do not necessarily reflect the views of all members of the committee.
It's clear that any solution to control our rising debt will have to be bipartisan, not only to enact savings put to see them through and ensure they materialize. That's why CRFB is committed to a bipartisan approach, and is willing to work with lawmakers across the political spectrum who want to tackle our debt challenges.
In that vein, Roll Call ran a piece yesterday on the efforts of CRFB and it's president, Maya MacGuineas, to help bring objective and trustworthy analysis into the process of forging the bipartisan support necessary for debt reduction. There are also so many business groups, experts, former government officials, and current lawmakers -- including over 100 members of the House and 45 Senators -- who are honestly confronting the challenges we face and calling for a big, bipartisan solution and who will need to be profiled too. But we'll let you read the article for yourself.
Today in the Washington Post, Fiscal Commission Co-Chairs and CRFB Board Members Al Simpson and Erskine Bowles wrote an op-ed titled, "The Super Committee's Make-or-Break Question," noting that they are not surprised that the Super Committee is going down to the wire to reach an agreement - their experience on the Fiscal Commission taught them how hard this issue is.
They then offered advice that the easiest way to reach a deal is to "go big and go broad", echoing our own Go Big campaign. They say:
"So how do you start such an agreement? Go big and go broad. One of the lessons from our work leading the Fiscal Commission is that it is key to take an approach both large enough to match the magnitude of the problem and comprehensive enough to allow for the tradeoffs and balance necessary to reach a bipartisan agreement. Fiscal Commission members were willing to take on their own sacred cows and fight special interests—but if, and only if, they saw others doing the same. The stark reality is that to take on anything in negotiations such as these, you almost have to take on everything. A supermajority of the commission would not have voted for our plan had we not taken on defense, domestic programs, the solvency of Social Security, health care, and spending in the tax code all at once."
They conclude by noting that this issue is so important, that political ideologies and special interests have to come second. The big picture has to take precedence. Furthermore, they note that fixing our fiscal problem serves both parties, noting that:
"We need more politicians who understand the calculus that personal priorities and common good coexist. The nation desperately needs broad, bipartisan agreement based on shared sacrifices. And the members of the supercommittee know the policy options and the choices that must be made. Now, it’s a matter of getting the committee’s members to recognize that statesmanship can also be a political win. Some might even call this leadership."
Click here to read the full Washington Post op-ed.
Additionally today, former Senator Al Simpson penned his own op-ed on CNN entitled, "All it takes to solve U.S. Debt is Willpower." Simpson notes that our fiscal situation will require supremely hard choices and rejects the notion out of hand that the problem can be fixed by taxes, spending, or economic growth alone -- all three are required. Simpson then goes into the fact that no fiscal plan will be perfectly ideal or liked by everyone, nor should it be. Sacred cows will be lost and tough choices have to be made. However, when politicians have the will, they make the right choice. Simpsons notes:
"When Dick Durbin announced that he was supporting our plan he said he was doing so even though it contained items he 'hated like the devil hates holy water' and he knew his vote for it would deeply disappoint many of his friends and allies. Tom Coburn well knew he would be demonized on taxes by the zealous enforcers of ideological purity like Grover Norquist of Americans for Tax Reform. But both Tom Coburn and Dick Durbin, and a supermajority of our commission, were willing to give up something they like to protect the country they love. Our nation simply cannot afford to have our elected leaders fearfully bow and scrape to the likes of Grover Norquist and the AARP. We need real leaders, courageous leaders who will place the national interest ahead of special interests. The members of the super committee as well as congressional leaders and the president must do just that. Pray for 'em!"
Click Here to read the full CNN op-ed.
"My Views" are works published by members of the Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget, but they do not necessarily reflect the views of all members of the committee.
A group of legislators today staged a rare bipartisan, bicameral show of strength to support the Super Committee and encourage it to “Go Big.” At a Capitol Hill press conference, dozens of senators and representatives from each party united to promote a comprehensive solution now.
We have the greatest chance we’ve seen in a generation to strike a bold agreement that will move us forward on a sustainable fiscal path and spur economic recovery.” House Minority Whip Steny Hoyer (D-MD)
Members of Congress participating in the event were mainly drawn from signatories of the recent bipartisan letters from 100 representatives and 45 senators urging the Super Committee to “Go Big” and recommend a comprehensive fiscal solution with everything on the table. As Rep. Heath Shuler (D-NC) exclaimed, “Over 150 members of the House and Senate have come together to say we want to go big.”
There were three main themes at the press conference.
- A large group legislators in each chamber supports the Super Committee and will back them up if they come up with a comprehensive deal.
- A “Go Big” approach is the best solution and will make it easier to reach an agreement.
- This is a key moment to prove that government institutions are capable of dealing with the critical challenges facing the country and a tremendous opportunity to enact a plan that will boost the economy.
Rep. Mike Simpson (R-ID) kicked off the event by stating that he wanted the Super Committee to know that there is a bipartisan, bicameral group of lawmakers willing to support them and make the “tough votes” that will be necessary, a sentiment that was echoed by many.
Super Committee, we got your back. Sen. Saxby Chambliss (R-GA)
House Minority Whip Steny Hoyer (D-MD) followed, mentioning the House letter and emphasizing that lawmakers must work together to put the country on the right fiscal track. Hoyer said that a package along the lines of Bowles-Simpson, Domenici-Rivlin or the Gang of Six should be recommended by the Super Committee “for the sake of our country and its fiscal future.” Hoyer also mentioned that no one there wanted to risk the sequestration that would be triggered if the Super Committee failed.
Going bigger is better in terms of the impact it will have that says to the world ‘we got it, we’re turning this economy in the right direction so that we can grow in a fashion that inspires confidence around the world.’ And going bigger is easier politically. Senate Majority Whip Dick Durbin (D-IL)
Sen. Saxby Chambliss (R-GA) told the members of the Super Committee that “we got your back,” succinctly encapsulating the views his colleagues. Another widely shared view expressed by Chambliss was that “the right thing to do is go big.” Chambliss was later reaffirmed by Sen. Kent Conrad (D-ND) who stated that members of the Super Committee “need to know that if they are bold, if they are brave, if they go big, we will stand with them and the American people will stand with them.” Sen. Dick Durbin (D-IL) also remarked, “we stand behind you, we want you to succeed, we will do everything we can to help you, but we encourage you to be bolder in your mission, to look beyond the $1.2 trillion or $1.5 trillion, to $4 trillion.”
We know that the economic future of our country, and the world, rests on decisions that will be made in the next few days. Senate Budget Committee Chair Kent Conrad (D-ND)
Sen. Mark Warner (D-VA) warned that the U.S. cannot repeat the mistakes of Europe in not confronting its debt crisis sufficiently. He also noted that the debt debate has become a proxy on whether our government institutions are up to the job in dealing with the country’s problems.
This is about more than money. It’s about whether the President and Congress can competently govern. Sen. Lamar Alexander (R-TN)
Sen. Lamar Alexander (R-TN) noted that Republicans on the Super Committee recently have put revenue on the table and Democrats put entitlements on the table. He urged both parties “to put more on the table.” Sen. Durbin conveyed that a “Go Big” approach helps encourage bipartisan collaboration because it puts more items on the table. And Rep. Peter Welch (D-VT) added that necessary reforms to strengthen vital programs like Medicare will be easier to make as part of a “Go Big” deal.
What we are here today, however, to say is that we are ready to make the compromises and build the solutions that can help bring all the parties together. And several of those here have made the point that if we go big, it actually becomes easier to put the issues on the table and find the solutions that can help us move forward. Sen. Mike Crapo (R-ID)
Sen. Mike Crapo (R-ID) closed the event by articulating the leadership and compromise that will be required. “The fact that you may have members standing here who have different ideas about how far they would personally like to go on taxes or how far they personally would like to go on entitlement reform does not mean that they are not ready to make the kinds of decisions that will help us as a nation to solve our fiscal crisis.”
Yesterday, Moody's Analytics Chief Economist Mark Zandi penned an article in Politico about the various possible outcomes of the looming Super Committee deadline. His remarks about the benefits of a multi-trillion dollar deficit reduction plan allow us to welcome him to the growing list of members in our Announcement Effect Club. Congrats! When referring to the prospects of a Go Big debt reduction agreement, he wrote:
"It’s too bad, because the economic payoff would be huge. Financial markets would rally substantially, and confidence and economic growth would surge. There might be appropriate wariness that this is too good to be true — but if it were true, our financial futures would quickly get brighter."
The Announcement Effect Club is one where merely showing the nation, the markets, and the world that we have a plan in place will provide economic benefits. Congrats to Mr. Zandi for agreeing with this notion. Now let's hope that our policymakers, particularly those on the Super Committee, heed this advice and enact such a plan. Time is running out, but the economic payouts, as Zandi notes, would "be huge."
Today at 10:30 am ET, Republican and Democratic lawmakers from both the House and the Senate will be holding a press conference pushing Go Big in a last-minute call for the Super Committee to exceed their $1.2 trillion mandate. It could not come at a more opportune time as the Super Committee has entered its final week of deliberations, before the Monday night deadline to hand over proposals to the CBO for scoring.
This press conference comes as the capstone to the burgeoning support for Go Big in recent weeks, where bipartisan groups of 100 members of the House and 45 Senators have pushed for $4 trillion in deficit reduction over a 10-year window. These proposals were in addition to the already extensive list of government officials, business leaders, budget experts, economists, and concerned constituents, who have lent their support for a grand bargain on deficit reduction.
As the clock ticks on the super committee, the focus appears to be on attaining a small deficit deal as the only hope of success. As we explained in a blog yesterday, the second round of proposals from both Democrats and Republicans have scaled back their savings targets. We have noted before that this is likely the wrong approach to deficit reduction. We explained in a recent paper that a grand bargain is likely more politically feasible than a nickle-and-dime approach.
We hope that the press conference today will serve as a final demonstration of widespread bicameral, bipartisan support for a $4 trillion deficit reduction plan. Additionally, we hope it will give lawmakers the political cushion necessary to Go Big with a plan that puts our long-term fiscal house in order and signals to the rest of the world that we are serious about addressing our growing debt problem.
You might think we're about to talk about Social Security reform or how to reform the Sustainable Growth Rate. But what we're actually talking about here is the need for Super Committee members to not be thinking of ways to reduce the overall savings to get a deal, but ways to increase the savings to make the chances of a deal more likely.
With two rounds of deficit reduction offers coming from both sides on the Super Committee, one disappointing trend has emerged: claw-back.
Democrats started with a "Go Big" plan of over $2.5 trillion in net new savings, more than two times the minimum mandated amount of $1.2 trillion over ten years. The cumulative total savings would be closer to $3.9 trillion including the Budget Control Act and final CR savings of $1.3 trillion. A newer offer, however, reduced both the proposed revenue increases and spending cuts by a total of about $675 billion (excluding the costs of any new job creation proposals). Similarly, Republicans started off with an offer for over $1.9 trillion in new savings, but instead of proposing more spending reductions in their second offer in exchange for increased revenues, they pushed down the overall savings.
It's particularly noteworthy that the second offer from Democrats nixed the chained CPI and brought down the level of health savings. CRFB has been arguing that the chained CPI - a technical fix - is the lowest of low hanging fruit for some time now, and we will not be able to control rising debt if we don't control health care spending! The most troubling change is how all offers seem to be negotiating smaller instead of larger towards a more sustainable fix.
|Comparison of Super Committee Offers (Billions)|
|Budget Area||Initial Democratic Offer
||Initial Republican Offer
||Second Democratic Offer||Second Republican Offer|
|BCA and CR Savings||$1,300||$1,300||$1,300||$1,300|
Note: Numbers may not add due to significant rounding, and are based off press accounts. Estimates off of a current policy baseline.
~Includes savings from both revenues and spending.
*Excludes about $200 billion from macroeconomic dynamic effects of future tax reform.
^Excludes about $110 billion from macroeconomic dynamic effects of future tax reform.
The trend from both sides is understandable but disappointing. It's not surprising that Democrats dropped their proposal to adopt the chained CPI for Social Security COLAs and reduced their Medicare savings when they can under criticism from their own base while also having their offer rejected by Republicans. We fear that Republicans may react in a similar manner to the rejection of their offer for new revenues. While asking for fewer concessions from the other sides may seem like the easiest way to reach a deal, it could actually make success harder to achieve and could leave in place fiscal pressures that threaten each parties long-term priorities.
Other bipartisan commissions have shown us that to get a real deal more must be added to the table. Fiscal Commission co-chairs Erskine Bowles and Alan Simpson frequently mention that by being bold and aggressively exceeding their mandate, they actually found it more likely to get other members of board. That was the reasoning behind Republicans and Democrats on the Fiscal Commission last year who voted for the plan. The Republicans, especially Tom Coburn, understood that the best way to reach an agreement on controlling spending growth (just look at Coburn's plan to cut $9 trillion in spending over ten years!) was to agree on new revenues, just as the Democrats who voted for the plan understood that some of the spending cuts were necessary to reach an agreement on elements of the plan that were important to them.
We fleshed this logic out in more detail in a recent policy paper, noting the importance of a sense of shared sacrifice and the need to actually fix our debt problem. It's no surprise then that Erskine Bowles's proposed compromise plan would increase the savings above these levels, adding larger spending cuts than in the Democratic proposal and higher revenues than in the Republican offer.
We need to achieve savings of two to three times the $1.2 trillion minimum savings mandate, a level to which the Republican offer is already dangerously close. We've got to think bigger if we are to reassure the American public, businesses, and credit markets that we will avoid crushing future debt burdens.
The experience of the Fiscal Commission shows us that scaling up the savings on both sides of the ledger is one of the most promising approaches we can take to reach an agreement and put debt on a downward path.
Time is Short and We Need to Go Long – The clock is ticking on the Super Committee as its November 23 deadline is now just a week and a half away. It’s now or never for the panel. By looking across the Atlantic, we can see what happens when governments cannot get their act together to address national debt. Some contend that the only hope at this point is a small, face-saving deal. But CRFB has made the case that a ‘Go Big’ approach has a better chance of success. While some argue there is not enough time for such a deal, the Super Committee doesn’t have to reinvent the wheel. Lots of work has already been done by the Bowles-Simpson Commission, the Domenici-Rivlin Task Force, and the Gang of Six.
Will the Super Committee Go for It or Go Home? – For all the talk about gridlock among the group, there has been some movement in the past week. Democrats on the panel offered some concessions on entitlements and Republicans offered some on taxes. CRFB applauded the movement in a statement. Meanwhile, some are looking for an escape hatch in case a big deal cannot be reached in time. Super Committee Co- chair Jeb Hensarling (R-TX) said on Sunday that the group could use a “two-step process” where specific changes to the tax code would be delegated to the tax–writing committees in Congress. And Sen. Mark Warner (D-VA) suggested that Congress vote on either the Gang of Six proposal or the Bowles-Simpson plan if the Super Committee fails to come up with a deal. President Obama raised the stakes by saying he would not support any attempt to roll back the $1.2 trillion in automatic cuts that would be triggered if the Super Committee fails. CRFB warns that eliminating the sequester would be irresponsible. Want your voice heard? See our new Citizen’s Resource Page for ideas to get engaged, such as signing a petition.
Go Big Not Going Away – Last week New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg threw his support behind a comprehensive ‘Go Big’ approach that puts everything on the table and goes beyond the mandate of the Super Committee to find $1.2 -$1.5 trillion in deficit savings over the next decade. This Tuesday, members of the House and Senate who support a ‘Go Big’ approach will urge the Super Committee on at a Capitol Hill press conference. One hundred members of the House and 45 senators publicly support going big now.
Appropriations Also Going Down to the Wire – Amid all the talk of the Super Committee deadline, another important budget date looms even closer. The continuing resolution funding the federal government expires on Friday. A new stopgap measure is expected to be included in the minibus combining FY 2012 spending bills for Agriculture, Transportation-Housing and Urban Development, and Commerce-Justice-Science that House-Senate negotiators are expected to complete this week. A second minibus rolling up the Financial Services, Energy-Water, and State-Foreign Operations appropriations bills may be voted on by the Senate this week as well.
House Goes Ahead with Balanced Budget Amendment Vote – The House will vote on a balanced budget amendment this week. The Budget Control Act requires both chambers to vote on a BBA by the end of the year. House leaders reportedly have decided to vote on a “clean” BBA that simply requires that expenditures not exceed revenues, as opposed to other versions that would also cap federal spending at a certain level of GDP and require a super majority in Congress to raise taxes. No version is likely to get the 2/3 majority vote in both houses of Congress and the 3/4 of the states needed to ratify a constitutional amendment. See here for budget process reform ideas that do not require an amendment to the Constitution.
Key Upcoming Dates (all times ET)
- Senate Budget Committee hearing on "Economic Effects of Fiscal Policy Choices" at 10 am.
- GOP presidential debate in Washington, DC sponsored by CNN, the Heritage Foundation and the American Enterprise Institute at 8 pm.
- Continuing resolution (CR) currently funding federal government operations expires.
- The Super Committee is required to vote on a report and legislative language recommending deficit reduction policies by this date.
- GOP presidential debate in Arizona sponsored by CNN at 8 pm.
- The Super Committee report and legislative language must be transmitted to the President and Congressional leaders by this date.
- Any Congressional committee that gets a referral of the Super Committee bill must report the bill out with any recommendation, but no amendments, by this date.
- GOP presidential debate in Des Moines, IA sponsored by ABC News at 9 pm.
- GOP presidential debate in Sioux City, IA sponsored by Fox News at 9 pm.
- GOP presidential debate in Johnston, IA sponsored by PBS NewsHour, Google and YouTube at 4 pm.
- Congress must vote on the bill recommended by the Super Committee by this date. No amendments are allowed.
- Both houses of Congress must vote on a balanced budget amendment to the U.S. Constitution, as required by the Budget Control Act.
January 3, 2012
- Iowa Caucuses.
January 10, 2012
- New Hampshire Primary.
January 21, 2012
- South Carolina Primary.
January 31, 2012
- Florida Primary.