The Bottom Line

December 5, 2013
Friday the 13th Approaches

It's just a little over a week before the budget conference committee is supposed to present its recommendations to Congress. Former U.S. Comptroller and CRFB board member David Walker writes in The Hill that the deadline is also an opportunity we cannot afford to waste:

December 4, 2013

Recently, several Members of Congress and outside groups have called for continuing extended unemployment benefits to allow the unemployed to collect for up to 73 weeks instead of 26.

December 4, 2013
Weekly Update on Budget and Fiscal Policy Developments and a Look Ahead

Deals to be Had – We survived Black Friday, Cyber Monday and Giving Tuesday. While the door buster bargains may be gone, there are still deals for the taking in Washington. Namely, lawmakers have striking deals on a budget and farm bill on their wish lists.

December 4, 2013

In his recent testimony, CBO directory Doug Elmendorf argued that it would be beneficial for policymakers to make large improvements to our budgetary picture, but that small steps forward would be better than nothing, and "no steps at all would be better than stepping backward." Budget gimmicks fall squarely into that stepping backwards category by potentially offsetting real costs with phony savings.

December 4, 2013

Last month, Senate Finance Committee Chairman Max Baucus (D-MT) released three tax reform discussion drafts. One of the most commendable elements in these discussion drafts is Baucus’ focus on the long-term impact of reform – ensuring it will not add to the deficit in future decades.

December 3, 2013

A recent CNN Money article suggests that budget conferees are likely to propose an increase in aviation security fees.

December 3, 2013

In our recent paper, "Our Long-Term Debt Problems are Very Far From Solved," we showed that while the debt problem may be long-term, solutions need to start today.

December 2, 2013

A new report from the Center for American Progress argues that roughly 60 percent of the sequester should be waived in light of the savings from the fiscal cliff deal in January, which allowed taxes to rise on the top 1 percent or so of Americans.

December 2, 2013

We hope all of our readers enjoyed their Thanksgiving holiday. The long weekend brought some fantastic rivalry games, Michigan-Ohio State, Auburn-Alabama, Ravens-Steelers, and many more. Coaches often had to decide whether to punt or to go for it and keep the drive alive. But in Washington, where Congress has had clear opportunities to get our fiscal house in order, a new Fix the Debt infographic shows lawmakers have been doing much more punting than solving.

November 26, 2013
Weekly Update on Budget and Fiscal Policy Developments and a Look Ahead

Giving Thanks...and Little Else – As we prepare to spend time with family and celebrate Thanksgiving, Congress gave itself a head start on the holiday rush and left town. While lawmakers may be giving thanks this week, there is little they can say they have offered. Much work remains on a budget and farm bill and there is some pessimism in Washington that anything more will be accomplished before the end of this year.

November 25, 2013

As budget conference committee chairs Patty Murray and Paul Ryan appear to be moving closer to a partial sequester-replacement deal, reports suggest such a deal could include an increase in federal civilian retirement contributions.

November 25, 2013
Yes, There's Hope for a Big Budget Deal

With Congress is in recess, it's likely we won't see a deal this week, but the December 13th deadline for the budget conference committee is fast approaching. Expectations for an agreement are mixed, but in an article in this weekends's U.S.

November 25, 2013

Efforts to reform the tax code are picking up steam, with several tax plans introduced in the last month. In the House, Ways & Means Chairman Dave Camp (R-MI) created 11 tax reform working groups to deal with different parts of the tax code. Last month, one of these working groups released a bipartisan discussion draft which would reform tax incentives for education.

November 22, 2013
“The sequester” is an across-the-board spending cut designed in 2011 to force the Joint Select Committee on Deficit Reduction (“Supercommittee”) to agree on a broad deficit reduction package. Upon the failure of the Supercommittee, the sequester set into motion $109 billion of annual spending cuts each year from Fiscal Year 2013 (FY2013) through FY2021.
November 22, 2013

This week, Senate Finance Chairman Max Baucus (D-MT) has been moving forward with tax reform, releasing three discussion drafts. On Tuesday, he released a draft of international tax reform intended to make the U.S. more competitive with other developed countries. On Wednesday, he released a draft on tax administration, intended to fight fraud and simplify the filing process.

November 22, 2013

The New York Times is reporting that the Treasury Department will sell its remaining shares in General Motors, bringing to an end its five-year involvement in the company. Treasury's holdings of GM stock have been quietly dwindling throughout the year, falling from about one-third of the company's stock in late 2012 to 2 percent after a sale two days ago.

November 22, 2013

Every year, CBO analyzes the Department of Defense's Future Years Defense Program (FYDP), most recently done last March. As has been the case over the past few years, CBO's analysis showed that DoD's plans would exceed the caps called for by the Budget Control Act, and far exceed those under sequestration. While the Administration and many in Congress have been looking to replace sequestration, they have not been able to do so yet.

November 21, 2013

Our paper released yesterday detailed how our long term debt problems are far from solved, making clear the unsustainability of federal debt over the long term and how much deficit reduction remains to fix it. As policymakers consider how to achieve long term deficit reduction, they must make sure they effectively evaluate policy options available to them, and have better information on the long term impact of different policies. 

November 20, 2013

Given the nature of debt ceiling politics lately, estimating when the federal government will start defaulting on obligations has become a common, multiple-times-a-year occurrence.

November 20, 2013

This week, Senate Finance Chairman Max Baucus (D-MT) is moving forward with tax reform, releasing three discussion drafts. Yesterday, he released a draft of international tax reform intended to make the U.S. more competitive with other developed countries. Today, he released a draft on tax administration, intended to improve the way taxes are collected and make it easier for taxpayers to file. Tomorrow, he will release a draft changing how businesses claim costs from their expenses.

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