The Bottom Line

March 7, 2012

One of the wonkier discussions that arise inside the Washington beltway from time to time is what accounting method to use for federal credit programs. In a new issue brief, CBO weighs in on the argument for and against using "fair value" accounting versus the current method. We provide a brief overview here, but be sure to check out the full report for more details.

March 6, 2012

In an op-ed in the Washington Post, Sen. Bob Corker (R-TN) disapproves of the current debate on the transportation bill that is being considered. He feels that Congress must at the very least be fiscally responsible in dealing with the transportation bill, seeing it as a critical test of lawmakers' ability to budget and tackle our larger fiscal issues.

March 5, 2012
A Weekly Update on Budget and Fiscal Policy Developments and a Look Ahead

Deficit Secondary in Primary – The presidential primary campaign hits a key point this week as "Super Tuesday" contests in several states may go a long ways in determining who will face off against President Obama in November. Although voters constantly rank the economy and federal budget deficit as the top two issues, they seem to have taken a back seat to social issues in the campaign right now. However, CRFB’s U.S. Budget Watch project seeks to elevate fiscal policy in the election.

March 5, 2012

For those of you who have had trouble keeping track of the many premium support proposals that have come out over the past year, the Kaiser Family Foundation has a handy comparison chart of the most prominent ones.

March 2, 2012

The Tax Reform Act of 1986 is often hailed as a major bipartisan achievement, a reform that simplified the tax code and lowered marginal tax rates. Of course, more holes were opened up, more tax brackets were added, and significant complexity was introduced to the tax code thereafter. 

March 2, 2012

Tax Policy Center has a new paper out showing what tax rates would have to be in order to stabilize the debt at 60 percent of GDP in 2020, 2025, and 2035. The paper is similar to one they did two years ago, although that one had different fiscal targets.

March 1, 2012

With CBO recently having scored President Obama's 2013 Budget Request, included within the total score is a score of a policy known as capping Overseas Contingency Spending. While this is a good policy, this policy, when coupled with counting it is deficit reducing or using it to offset other spending, which President Obama, like many others before him, have done, is quite simply a gimmick.

March 1, 2012

Update: CBO has estimated that the IPAB repeal bill (HR 452) would increase spending and deficits by $3 billion from 2013-2022.

March 1, 2012
Presidential Candidates Must Address our Debt

Note: This op-ed was originally published in The Hill.

February 29, 2012

On Tuesday, the Government Accountability Office (GAO) released a report on possible duplication and overlap by government agencies. This is the second annual report released by GAO, a result of an amendment from Sen. Tom Coburn (R-OK) to the debt ceiling increase in January 2010. The report not only identifies areas of government duplication, overlap and fragmentation, but also other cost saving opportunities beyond its original mandate.

February 29, 2012

Last week, we released our in-depth analysis of the debt impact of the four Republican candidates’ budget proposals, a report that received a significant amount of media attention and brought some attention to the fiscal side of the campaign.

February 29, 2012

On Monday, House Democratic Whip Steny Hoyer (D-MD) gave a speech calling for Congress to "Go Big" on deficit reduction.

Hoyer opened by making the case--as we have many times in the past--that there is no conflict between addressing the short-term economic situation and putting the debt on a sustainable path. As he explained:

February 28, 2012

(Go) Big Events – The Academy Awards and the NBA All-Star Game competed for attention Sunday night. Both events are more about showmanship than substance. The same can be said about the fiscal debate, except without Billy Crystal or Kobe Bryant. There were some big budget policy events last week as well that advanced the "Go Big" message for a comprehensive fiscal plan. While there were no slam dunks or musical numbers, support is definitely growing for real solutions.

February 28, 2012

Last year, our Spotlight on the States series highlighted many contentious battles to eliminate budget shortfalls in state capitals across the country. Of course, the states have been in budget-cutting mode for a few years now as the recession has led to steep drops in state revenue.

February 28, 2012

CBPP released a paper last week re-affirming their support for switching to the chained CPI for calculation inflation adjustments for benefit programs and the tax code.

February 27, 2012
Can Tax Reform Save the U.S. Economy?

Were it not for the growth in spending on Medicare, Medicaid, and Social Security, the United States wouldn't have much of a budget problem. The two biggest programs—Social Security and Medicare—are retirement programs that are extremely popular politically. Both need to be reformed, but they cannot be cut abruptly and they cannot be cut drastically. Consequently, it's hard to avoid concluding that some revenue increases will be needed to solve our fiscal problems.

February 24, 2012

True to this year's State of the Union address, the Obama Administration released a proposal Wednesday that seeks to lower the corporate tax rate from 35 percent to 28 percent while eliminating many loopholes and broadening the base.

February 24, 2012

Several developments this week give us hope that this election season will offer some much-needed focus on fiscal policy. Although exit/entrance polls from each state that has voted in the primaries so far have indicated that the federal budget deficit is the number two most important issue for voters behind the economy/jobs, there has yet to be much substantive discussion of the topic on the campaign trail. But that might be changing.

February 22, 2012
Watch It Live Here

This morning, CRFB’s U.S. Budget Watch project will unveil Primary Colors: The GOP Candidates and the National Debt, a study of the policy proposals of the four major Republican presidential candidates and their impact on the national debt. President Obama will be included in a forthcoming report. (For an addendum on Governor Romney's 2/22 tax plan, click here).

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