The Bottom Line

November 11, 2013
Weekly Update on Budget and Fiscal Policy Developments and a Look Ahead

Saluting Service – Today we salute those who have served the United States in the military with a federal holiday. While many have a day off, lawmakers are taking an extended break from Washington ahead of some bruising budget battles. The House returns to work tomorrow from over a week of recess as the Senate enjoys its own respite this week. But policymakers can’t get away from dealing with unresolved fiscal issues. Several deadlines loom and the U.S.

November 11, 2013

When talking about the debt, it is hard to avoid also talking about generational inequity. Many groups, especially the Can Kicks Back, have worked to highlight how our unsustainable debt path will especially hurt younger generations if lawmakers do not take action.

November 8, 2013

It has been one week since the budget conference committee's first meeting, and many are speculating that the committee could realistically come up with a plan to replace some of the sequester's temporary cuts with permanent deficit reduction. The budget conference committee has a December 13 deadline to produce a compromise budget.

November 8, 2013

The Government Accountability Office, the investigative arm of Congress, posted a short educational video explaining the national debt today. In a short time period, it explains the difference between gross debt and debt held by the public, why debt is measured as a percent of GDP, and why the long-term debt situation is troubling.

The video is a good educational resource for the basics of federal debt.

November 7, 2013

It's no secret that a significant portion of the federal budget is devoted to our national defense and insurance programs like Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid. As Ezra Klein wrote almost three years ago, the federal government can be thought of as essentially "an insurance conglomerate protected by a large, standing army." But the army's getting smaller too.

November 7, 2013

This is the fourteenth post in our blog series, The Tax Break-Down, which will analyze and review tax breaks under discussion as part of tax reform. Last week, we wrote about the FICA Tip Credit.

November 7, 2013
Conference Committee Could Jumpstart Reform

All eyes are on the budget conference committee, which has a myriad of options available to consider as it negotiates this year's budget resolution. Some advocates and lawmakers have been discussing Social Security reform as an area that might be able to get bipartisan consensus.

November 6, 2013

The Treasury Department released its final estimate of the budget figures for FY 2013 last week, with a final deficit figure of $680 billion. Today, CBO followed up with a breakdown of the differences between their May estimate and the actual totals.

November 6, 2013
Weekly Update on Budget and Fiscal Policy Developments and a Look Ahead

Sugar Crash – Another Halloween has come and gone. Many kids (and adults) have been quickly going through their sugar-filled loot. Eventually, the candy always runs out and everyone is left with a severe letdown and an empty bag. The thrill of trick-or-treating and the subsequent sugar rush are gone. It feels that way in Washington now. There are no more treats left, though there is still potential for tricks. The budget conference committee has begun deliberations on the right foot, but lots of obstacles remain.

November 6, 2013

Yesterday was the 5th of November, also known Guy Fawkes Day in the UK. But in the US, this date also has special significance for being the day upon which President Bush signed the bipartisan Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act (OBRA) of 1990 into law, the largest deficit reduction package (in real dollars) ever achieved through reconciliation. The reconciliation legislation contained nearly $750 billion (in 2013 dollars) of deficit reduction over 5 years, through a combination of revenue increases and spending cuts.

November 5, 2013

The Senate Finance and House Ways & Means Committees, last week, released a bipartisan, bicameral discussion draft of a proposal to permanently replace Medicare’s sustainable growth rate (SGR) formula, which is set to cut physician payments by nearly 25 percent next year.

November 4, 2013

With conference committee meetings underway, many are weighing in with their take on what should be accomplished. On Friday, Fareed Zakaria at CNN compiled a wishlist for Congress, with the help of commentators, analysts, and policy makers. The 12 contributors all had different takes on what the conference committee should address.

November 1, 2013

The Obama Administration made an administrative change today to rules regarding Flexible Spending Accounts (FSAs) that could cost taxpayers hundreds of millions or even billions of dollars over the next 10 years.

November 1, 2013

As lawmakers look to replace the sequester with smarter deficit reduction, it may be tempting to look for easy ways out. Unfortunately in recent months and years, that has led some elected leaders to turn to the war gimmick because of the sheer size of the phony savings.

November 1, 2013

As if we needed more proof that the country is ready to deal with our debt problem, the Peterson Foundation today released the results of a new poll that showed both Democrats and Republicans would support a bipartisan solution for the debt. Of the over 1,000 registered voters that were sampled, 95 percent wanted to see Democrats and Republicans work together to solve the country's fiscal problems.

October 31, 2013

Two weeks ago, we responded to a Larry Summers op-ed calling for a focus on growth rather than deficits. Yesterday, Wall Street Journal economics editor David Wessel also responded, breaking down the arguments into three and taking them on one by one. He agrees with us that the short-term deficit isn't the issue, but the long-term deficit is.

October 31, 2013

Update: This blog has been updated to include the Mid-Session Review and CBO projections for the 2013 deficit.

October 31, 2013

This is the thirteenth post in our blog series, The Tax Break-Down, which will analyze and review tax breaks under discussion as part of tax reform. Our last post was on the Foreign Earned Income Exclusion, which benefits U.S. citizens living abroad. 

October 31, 2013

Yesterday, the Social Security Administration announced that beneficiaries will be receiving a 1.5 percent Cost-of-Living Adjustment (COLA) this year. Although this update is below the 1.7 percent increase provided this year and the 3.6 percent increase provided for 2012, it is reflective of the relatively low inflation experienced over the past year.

October 30, 2013
For Budget Conference, Start With The Pizza

Today was the first meeting of the budget conference committee negotiating over this year's discretionary spending levels. Although the first meeting was devoted to opening statements from the 29 lawmakers, it sets the tone for the debate over the next month and a half.

Syndicate content