The Bottom Line

October 22, 2012

At the Urban Institute this morning, a panel of budget heavyweights gathered to discuss the politics of the federal budget, focusing on Wall Street Journal editor David Wessel's new book Red Ink. The panel included Urban's Eugene Steuerle, former CBO and OMB director Alice Rivlin,

October 22, 2012
Weekly Update on Budget and Fiscal Policy Developments and a Look Ahead

Up for Debate – Election 2012 is entering the final stretch and it is still up for grabs. The presidential contest has been marked more by missteps than by anyone stepping up and observers are waiting to see who will mimic the Washington Nationals and Redskins and give it away at the end. The third and final presidential debate is tonight at 9 pm Eastern Time and is the last time the contenders will go head to head.

October 22, 2012

Tonight is the last presidential debate with questions focused on foreign policy, but it would be a mistake to forget about debt. Our foreign policy is intertwined with fiscal policy, since it determines what economic power we have and what security capabilities we will possess.

October 19, 2012

This morning, the National Coalition on Health Care held a forum in the Rayburn House Office Building entitled “Innovations in Health Care Delivery and Benefits: Real World Solutions.” The forum highlighted three success stories in improving quality and lowering costs in the delivery of health care. In policy discussions held in Washington around reforming federal health spending, real world successes and examples are often left out of the conversation.

October 19, 2012

Some commentators have suggested that raising the retirement age would be regressive given that lower income recipients tend to have a lower life expectancy than middle and higher income recipients (and therefore spend fewer years collecting benefits.) But a look at the data

October 19, 2012

This blog has been cross-posted at FixTheDebt.org.

It may not be as popular as Justin Bieber, but the fiscal cliff is getting plenty of notice as of late.

October 18, 2012

With Congress in recess until after the elections, a plan to replace the fiscal cliff with a comprehensive debt deal will have to get done during the lame duck session. With less than five weeks to work with, Congress might look to the Bipartisan Policy Center's new Framework for a Grand Bargain for recommendations on how Congress could avoid the fiscal cliff, while ensuring it is committed to a debt deal in a limited time frame.

October 18, 2012

After we analyzed a part of it two weeks ago, Governor Mitt Romney's tax plan is back in the news, with a proposed deduction cap as the subject of a new Tax Policy Center study. He had mentioned a $25,000 dollar cap on deductions as a possibility in his tax plan during the debate Tuesday night and has previously proposed a $17,000 cap.

October 18, 2012
Governing After Over-Promising

Urban Institute Fellow and CRFB board member Gene Steuerle laments the presidential candidates' overpromising this election season, particularly on fiscal policy. According to Steuerle, neither President Obama or Governor Romney has laid out enough details to back their promises or reduce the deficit. In fact, sometimes the details seem to make promise of fiscal responsiblity harder to keep.

October 17, 2012

As with the previous two debates (one presidential and one vice presidential), we will take an opportunity to go back and fact check some statements we missed or expand on the things we got to that deserve more than a 140 character explanation.

October 17, 2012

Senator Tom Coburn (R-OK) yesterday released his "Wastebook" for 2012, a laundry list of government waste and inefficiency. Coburn finds 100 examples of government spending clearly not serving its designed purpose.  

Wastebook's examples include:

October 16, 2012

Tonight at 9 PM on the grounds of Hofstra University is the second presidential debate and the only debate with a town hall format. This will allow questions from audience members, and with such a broad consensus that something needs to be done about the national debt, we expect at least a few questions on fiscal policy in tonight's debate. As before, we will be live fact checking from Twitter (@BudgetHawks) and our live feed will appear below.

October 16, 2012
Agreeing on the Debt

Former Congressman and CRFB Board Member Tim Penny (D-MN) writes in today's The Hill that even with both parties laying out different plans this election, they need to come together and agree on doing something about our unsustainable fiscal path.

October 16, 2012

Our colleagues Jason Delisle and Alex Holt of the New America Foundation's Federal Education Budget Project have released a new paper "Safety Net or Windfall?" on the 2010 changes to federal student loan program's Income-Based Repayment (IBR) plan. The IBR plan was designed to help with student's loan repayment by limiting payments to 15 percent of their income and forgiving the remaining balance after 25 years.

October 16, 2012

With the release of September inflation numbers from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the Social Security Administration also announced its cost-of-living adjustments (COLA) and change to the maximum amount of income to which the payroll tax is applied. The COLA for Social Security benefits next year will be a 1.7 percent increase, while the taxable maximum will rise from $110,100 to $113,700.

October 15, 2012

The Mercatus Center has released a new paper by Social Security Trustee Charles Blahous entitled "The End of Social Security Self-Financing." In the paper and an accompanying article, Blahous writes of the challenges faced by Social Security in continuing to finance its benefits with revenues from the payroll tax.

October 15, 2012

Today, CRFB released a paper on individual income tax reform, showing how comprehensive reforms could lower both deficits and tax rates. The paper explains why a recent Joint Committee on Taxation experiment showing a top rate of 38 percent is not comparable to the Simpson-Bowles plan, the Domenici-Rivlin plan, or any other tax reform plan out there.

October 15, 2012

After live fact-checking the vice presidential debate on Twitter, we will take some time to go back and expand on some of our fact-checking and include some things we may have missed.

October 12, 2012

Today, a report from the Joint Committee on Taxation was released that some claim to show the near-impossibility of deficit-reducing, rate-reducing tax reform. The JCT report shows an exercise in which the elimination of itemized deductions allows for a top rate of only 38 percent. Comparisons between this report and the various tax reform plans out there are highly misleading.

October 11, 2012

Vice President Joe Biden and Representive Paul Ryan (R-WI) will take the stage in Kentucky tonight at 9:00 PM E.T. in the Vice Presidential Debate. In the last debate, President Obama and Governor Romney spent a good deal of time in the last debate discussing fiscal policy -- though we hope each candidate gets more into the details tonight.

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