The Bottom Line

June 25, 2014
5 Ways to Fix the Broken VA

Jim Nussle, Co-Chair of the Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget, served as the Director of the Office of Management and Budget from 2007-2009. Prior to his time at OMB, Mr. Nussle represented the 1st District of Iowa in the U.S. House of Representatives for 16 years. He recently wrote an opinion featured in the CNN Opinion section. It is reposted here.

June 25, 2014

As we've been writing about various ways to improve the state of the Highway Trust Fund (HTF), the Senate Finance Committee has been discussing options to do just that.

June 25, 2014
House Rules Subcommittee Hearing on H.R. 1869

This morning at 10 a.m., the House Rules Subcommittee on Legislative and Budget Process will hold a hearing on the Biennial Budgeting and Enhanced Oversight Act (H.R. 1869), sponsored by Rep. Reid Ribble (R-WI). Maya MacGuineas, President of the Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget, will provide expert testimony.

Watch the hearing live here.

Read her written testimony here.

June 25, 2014

We've written many times on the need to reform Social Security well before it becomes insolvent in the 2030s.

June 24, 2014

We released a new paper, Trust or Bust: Fixing the Highway Trust Fund, which showed the Highway Trust Fund (HTF) faces a $170 billion shortfall over the next decade and provided numerous options to close that shortfall. In a previous blog, we explored options for doing that by increasing revenue from sources that are currently dedicated to the HTF.

June 23, 2014

Without a fix soon, the Highway Trust Fund (HTF) will run out of money this summer, slowing down infrastructure projects across the nation.

June 23, 2014

Last week, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) indicated his plans to bring up the Medicare Protection Act for a vote on the Senate floor.

June 20, 2014

Both the House and Senate have passed bills reforming the VA, and a conference committee must now meet to hammer out differences between the two bills. Yesterday, CRFB President Maya MacGuineas sent a letter to the 28 conferees, calling for the resulting bill to take a fiscally responsible approach and honor our nation's commitment to veterans without adding to the national debt.

June 19, 2014

One of the wonkier fiscal debates that arises from time to time concerns the accounting method used to measure the size of the budget deficit. This week, the U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO) published an online primer that explains the different ways to measure the deficit and what these measures say about the government’s fiscal health.

June 19, 2014

Senators Chris Murphy (D-CT) and Bob Corker (R-TN) announced a proposal this week to close the Highway Trust Fund (HTF) shortfall by increasing the gas tax by 12 cents a gallon over the next two years and indexing it to inflation. As we highlighted in our transportation paper this week, Congress should come up with a long-term solution to permanently solve the structural imbalance between current spending from the HTF and dedicated revenues into the HTF.

June 18, 2014

The Highway Trust Fund (HTF) is scheduled to run out of money this summer, threatening to slow down construction projects around the country as federal funding dries up. CRFB has just published a new analysis showing the problems facing the HTF, and listing both options to extend the HTF in the short-term and to prevent a similar crisis in the future. You can read the full paper here.

June 17, 2014

The Congressional Budget Office today released a preliminary analysis of several sections of the House VA reform bill. Like the Senate bill that we analyzed last week, the legislation would increase VA health spending by allowing the VA to contract with private health providers. In fact, if appropriators fully funded the House legislation, it could cost more than the Senate bill.

June 17, 2014

Last week, Senator Mark Begich (D-AK) and Senate Budget Committee Chair Patty Murray (D-WA) introduced legislation that would make targeted increases to Social Security benefits.

June 16, 2014

Note: Last updated 7/22/14. The status table below will be updated regularly throughout the FY2015 appropriations process.

The appropriations process is in full swing on Capitol Hill with both the House and Senate working on individual bills. We'll be here to keep you updated as they move through committee to floor consideration and eventually to the President's desk. This week, it appears action on individual appropriations bills has stalled. However, Congress may consider an immigration supplemental appropriations bill.

June 13, 2014

Now that both chambers of Congress have passed bills aimed at improving the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) health system, they will need reconcile their differences, likely via conference committee.

June 12, 2014

The Senate voted 93-3 yesterday on new legislation to expand veterans' benefits by allowing beneficiaries to seek out private (non-VA) health care paid for by the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA).

June 12, 2014

The House passed today two bills permanently reinstating three tax provisions that expired at the end of 2013. Extending these provisions would cost about $75 billion. Because they approved these tax cuts without offsetting savings, the two bills would add about $95 billion to the deficit, including interest.

June 11, 2014

The International Monetary Fund recently published a study on budget institutions in G-20 countries. The study takes stock of these countries' progress in reforming their budget institutions and examines whether having strong budget institutions has helped countries tackle their budget challenges in the aftermath of the financial crisis. While it is difficult to measure the impact of institutional arrangements on budgetary outcomes, the IMF's verdict is that they do matter.

June 10, 2014

With the Highway Trust Fund (HTF) running low and the threat of disrupting highway construction later this summer, lawmakers are scrambling to come up with a short-term solution to add more money to the fund. However, a new Joint Committee on Taxation analysis shows that one popular idea to "pay" for the transfer – a tax holiday for corporations returning cash held overseas, or "repatriation tax holiday" – actually adds to the debt and therefore cannot be used as an offset.

June 10, 2014

Despite the noted acceleration in broader health care spending this year (likely due in large part to coverage expansions), Medicare continues to grow at an astoundingly slow pace.

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