The Bottom Line

May 3, 2012

Last week’s report from the Social Security Trustees laid out the challenges facing the vital program. The largest federal program began running annual deficits in 2010 and will continue to do so each year through 2033, when the trust fund is projected to become exhausted. At that point, recipients will see a 25% cut in benefits, absent any action.

May 3, 2012

As the topic of tax reform will be heating up this year, five analysts from the Brookings Institution's Hamilton Project have released a paper called "A Dozen Economic Facts About Tax Reform." It is certainly a useful primer on how the tax system has changed over time and the promise and difficulties involved in changing it.

Those dozen facts are:

May 2, 2012

David Lawder of Reuters has featured our recently updated budget simulator in an excellent piece about the challenges of cutting the debt. The simulator offers a menu of tax and spending options with the ultimate goal of reducing debt below 60 percent of GDP. As many of our users are finding out, debt reduction is possible but not without considering some difficult options.

May 1, 2012
Social Security Disability System Is Broken

CRFB's Senior Policy Director Marc Goldwein has a message to policymakers in an op-ed in The Hill: don't overlook the disability insurance (DI) program. The latest Trustees report projecting the DI trust fund to run out in only four years, but people often overlook that deadline, since they assume money would be transferred from the old age portion of the program. 

May 1, 2012

An article in The Hill today notes that House Republicans do not plan to offer offsets for the extension of the 2001/2003 tax cuts that expire at the end of the year.

April 30, 2012

The news that Britain has entered into a double-dip recession touched off a fierce debate last week over the role of austerity in the country's downturn.

April 30, 2012

The politicians don't seem to want to budge on the budget, but our simulator is allowing the public to nudge them along.

April 30, 2012

Last week, the House Ways and Means Subcommittee on Select Revenue Measures held a review of "tax extenders" -- tax provisions that have been enacted on a temporary basis but are frequently extended. The hearing featured testimony from members of Congress who had sponsored legislation to extend one or more extenders, with each of them having to defend their particular tax breaks.

April 27, 2012

Today, we are launching DebateTheDebt.org, a site where you can sign a petition calling for a real debate devoted to the debt. In that vein, CRFB president Maya MacGuineas reiterated the call to have one of the three presidential debates focus exclusively on the debt in an op-ed at CNN.com.

April 27, 2012

Update: CBO has posted scores for the Energy and Commerce and Oversight bills. They would save $113 billion and $83.3 billion, respectively, over ten years.

April 26, 2012

To hear the news coming out of Washington, finding the route to fiscal stability can be pretty hopeless as our leaders all steer in different directions. If only we had a GPS! Well, maybe we do.

April 26, 2012

Federal Reserve chairman Ben Bernanke held a press conference yesterday following the conclusion of the Federal Open Market Committee meeting. Questions spanned a variety of topics including the Fed's current monetary policy stance, the economic outlook, the possible threat posed by European troubles, and Fed transparency. But one question did come up about the fiscal cliff and how the Fed would react if no action were taken. Here are his remarks:

April 26, 2012
Congress Cannot Afford to Punt on Social Security

Today, two of CRFB's co-chairman, former Representatives Charlie Stenholm (D-TX) and Jim Kolbe (R-AZ), penned an op-ed in The Hill, saying that the new Trustees report should give lawmakers a new sense of urgency over Social Security reform.

April 25, 2012

Recently, both the House and Senate proposed cuts to the Department of Agriculture. Though the proposals are fairly similar in magnitude, they achieve their savings in very different ways. With the 2008 Farm Bill expiring in September, it will be interesting to see how these bills will shape the final outcome for that legislation.

April 25, 2012

A new article from Jeffrey Brown of Forbes succinctly captures much of the debate around the findings of the Social Security Trustees report. In many ways, the debate surrounding Social Security boils down to whether you view it as a stand-alone program or one that is part of the overall federal budget.

April 24, 2012

Bill Frenzel, CRFB co-chairman and former ranking member on the House Budget Committee, made a convincing case for a Presidential debate on specific steps the candidates would take to reduce the debt.

April 24, 2012

While we have already broken down the Social Security Trustees report, the Trustees have also produced a report for Medicare. Considering that health care spending is central to our fiscal challenges and Medicare is the largest program in that category, understanding the report's findings is critical.

April 24, 2012
A Weekly Update on Budget and Fiscal Policy Developments and a Look Ahead

Play On – The NHL playoffs are under way. The Red Wings were clipped, the Sharks sunk, the Canucks cannot, and the Penguins were iced. In Washington, fans are holding their breath. Will the Caps grind out a win over the defending champion Bruins, or will they suffer yet another early exit? Meanwhile, there is plenty of action away from the ice. Both parties continue to play off of each other when it comes to fiscal matters. The same excuses and insults are shot back at one another like a hockey puck, with no one seemingly aiming for the net.

April 24, 2012

With the release of Trustees reports on Social Security and Medicare, CRFB has released its analysis of the Social Security report, breaking down the sources of deterioration in the projection and what it means for the program.

April 23, 2012

The Social Security and Medicare Trustees have signed off on their respective reports on the financial projections for the two programs, though we continue to wait for the Social Security report to be posted reports online.

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