The Bottom Line

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.

October 30, 2013

The first meeting of the budget conference committee is today! The committee will have a month and a half to reconcile the House and Senate-passed budgets and come up with a longer-term solution on appropriations and the debt ceiling. You can watch the live proceedings on C-SPAN here right now.

October 29, 2013
Weekly Update on Budget and Fiscal Policy Developments and a Look Ahead

Conference Calls – While many of us prepare for a spooky adventure Thursday night, the day before will mark the beginning of another eerie undertaking. Conference committees for both the budget and farm bill begin formal deliberations on Wednesday. While Americans will go door-to-door seeking treats and watch out for tricks, lawmakers will have to negotiate a lengthier and more complex journey with lots of potential for mischief and few treats in store.

October 29, 2013

In an op-ed in POLITICO yesterday, former Senate Majority Leader Tom Daschle argued that the upcoming conference committee was the perfect time to enact entitlement reforms. While conventional wisdom has suggested that a bigger deal involving reforms may seem to be elusive, Daschle suggested that there is more agreement between the two parties than meets the eye.

There are two major reasons why this decision makes sense now.

October 29, 2013
Stop the Madness, Start Discussing Long-Term Solutions to Debt Issues

The budget conference committee will begin to meet in full shortly, when the conferees will begin to look for a compromise between the Senate and House budgets and hopefully, finally put the country on a sustainable fiscal path.

October 28, 2013

A number of commentators have suggested recently that our budget problems could be solved if only we focused more on promoting economic growth. Economic growth, they argue, would generate more revenue and thus make painful tax increases and spending cuts unnecessary.

October 28, 2013
The Budget Crisis Is Over (Temporarily), But Another Is Coming Soon

It is difficult to believe that nearly two weeks ago, our country was on the brink of default, the shutdown dragged on, and lawmakers seemed unable to come to any sort of compromise. After narrowly avoiding fiscal disaster, many may be ready to put the budget on the back shelf.

October 25, 2013
A Fair Trade for Entitlement Reform Includes Increased Revenue

Yesterday, CRFB board member and former Senate Budget Committee argued in the Washington Post that ultimately, additional revenue through comprehensive tax reform will be needed along with entitlement reforms to put the budget on a sustainable path.

October 25, 2013
Policy Saves Nearly 85 Percent Less

Yesterday, the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) dramatically lowered its estimate of savings if policymakers chose to increase the Medicare eligibility age from 65 today to match Social Security's full retirement age of 67. Last year, CBO estimated that increasing the age would generate $113 billion in savings over 10 years.

October 24, 2013

With a deal on the appropriations bill last week, the government has been reopened and a default has been avoided. But the reality is that lawmakers do not have too long before the next budget deadlines draw near.

October 24, 2013

This is the twelfth 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 intangible drilling costs, a tax break for companies in extractive industries.

October 24, 2013

As part of the bipartisan deal to end the government shutdown and avoid default, a budget conference was established. The purpose of this conference is to reconcile the House and Senate budget resolutions passed earlier this year, and optimally reach an agreement on government funding levels and how to set the country on a fiscally sustainable long-term path.

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