The Bottom Line

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.

November 20, 2013

Today, CRFB has released a new paper, Our Long-Term Debt Problems Are Very Far from Solved, which shows while recent improvements may have benefited our budget outlook over the short and medium term, we have made little progress on the long term and sizable challenges still remain.

November 19, 2013

This week, Senate Finance Committee Chairman Max Baucus (D-MT) is moving ahead with tax reform, starting with the release of discussion drafts on reforming the international tax system, tax administation, and cost recovery. Today, Baucus released the draft on international taxes.

November 19, 2013
Weekly Update on Budget and Fiscal Policy Developments and a Look Ahead

Historic Moment – On this day 150 years ago, President Abraham Lincoln delivered the Gettysburg Address dedicating the new national cemetery at the site of the epic Civil War battle. We observe that historic moment at a time when the “government of the people, by the people, for the people” that Lincoln defended appears at a low ebb. Congressional approval ratings are at record lows and other institutions are also suffering.

November 19, 2013

The year is rapidly coming to a close, with only 11 days left that the House plans to be in session. Before the year's end, Congress is supposed to hear from the budget conference committee on the results of their negotiations, but lawmakers also have a few other year-end events to handle.

November 18, 2013
Impact of Shutdown Lingers

Though the government shutdown ended a little over a month ago, its effects still linger on. In an editorial published today in The Hill, former Senator Judd Gregg (R-NH) reviews the aftermath of the shutdown and debt ceiling debacle, to try and determine what it accomplished.

November 14, 2013

In addition to CBO director Doug Elmendorf's testimony, yesterday's budget conference committee meeting produced another notable moment: a proposal from Sen. Angus King (I-ME) to replace part of the sequester with targeted and permanent reforms.

November 14, 2013

As the conferees met yesterday, any doubt that we can afford to wait on the long-term debt problem should have quickly been erased after CBO Director Doug Elmendorf's testimony to the conference committee. While the budget outlook has improved somewhat in the short term, little progress has been made on the long-term problem. And fixing the long term will likely require greater reforms to entitlement programs and the tax code.

November 14, 2013

On Monday, we took a look at the breakdown of federal spending and taxes by the type of household, particularly between elderly and non-elderly households. But CBO's recent analysis of 2006 household data also contains valuable information on the income distribution of the budget as well.

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