The Bottom Line

December 22, 2011

What a year it's been! 2011 certainly had plenty of budget and fiscal policy developments that kept all of us at CRFB pretty busy. We wish that meant we could say that this was the year of a fiscal plan. Funny enough, we said the exact same thing last year, when we took a look back at 2010 and hoped for a fiscal plan in 2011. But now we really mean it this time when we say we're confident that 2012 will be the year of the fiscal plan!

December 22, 2011

Once again, ratings agencies are warning the United States that our current fiscal outlook is not sustainable and we risk further downgrades unless we change course. Following their November 28th decision to put the U.S. on a negative outlook, Fitch warned the U.S. again yesterday by saying that our current rising debt trajectory was “not consistent” with our AAA credit rating.

December 21, 2011

With the year wrapping up, our friends Ezra Klein over at the Washington Post and Derek Thompson at The Atlantic asked a variety of noted economists and other important individuals ranging from Larry Summers and Jared Bernstein to Rep. Paul Ryan (R-WI) and Sen. Kent Conrad (D-ND) to list their favorite chart of the year.

December 20, 2011

According to a recent AP-GfK Poll, 76 percent of Americans think that the federal budget deficit is an extremely or very important issue, yet you wouldn’t know it from the campaign rhetoric.

December 19, 2011
A Weekly Update on Budget and Fiscal Policy Developments and a Look Ahead

Brink Again – Washington’s favorite game played out again last week as lawmakers once more waited until the last minute to avert a government shutdown. A bill funding government operations not already financed for fiscal year 2012 was approved as the deadline to avoid a partial government shutdown passed.

December 19, 2011

In response to the release of the Ryan-Wyden premium support plan last week, The New York Times spelled out options for reducing Medicare spending within the program's existing framework in an editorial yesterday. These options are some of the most commonly discussed out there in the budget debate, so it's useful to take a quick look at them.

December 16, 2011

As the federal government has been slowly winding down much of its commitment in the Troubled Asset Relief Program (TARP), the prevailing trend for cost estimates of TARP was one of decline (see, for example, here and here). However, that has changed with the release today of CBO's newest estimate.

December 16, 2011

Update 12/16: Representatives Welch, Miller, Van Hollen, Cleaver, and Himes formally released the letter yesterday to President Obama with over 90 signatures from House Democrats in support of not dismantling the sequester until savings are enacted.

December 16, 2011

The Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget has announced the return of U.S. Budget Watch, just in time for the Republican primary season and the full 2012 presidential election. U.S. Budget Watch will monitor the election, the talking points, candidate websites, and the debates to get a picture of what each candidate is proposing, and will put it all into a unified plan to estimate the costs and/or savings (with an emphasis on the federal debt impacts) of what each candidate hopes to accomplish. First, however, U.S.

December 15, 2011

This morning, Senator Ron Wyden (D-OR) and Representative Paul Ryan (R-WI) unveiled their proposal to significantly change Medicare, one of the largest areas of the budget and one of the biggest drivers of our long-term debt. Rep. Ryan, who unveiled his own Medicare plan earlier this year, has joined with Sen. Wyden to craft a plan that would significantly improve the long-term fiscal imbalance. These lawmakers deserve credit for having the courage to propose specific reforms to help control rising debt levels.

December 15, 2011

A bipartisan group of Representatives has introduced the Budget Process Improvement Act of 2011 in an effort to provide "improved accuracy and transparency" to the federal budget process.

December 15, 2011
Teddy Roosevelt Redux?

On Tuesday, December 5, President Obama went to Oswatomie, Kansas, where Teddy Roosevelt in 1910 had made one of his most famous speeches. Democrats, the current president would have us think, are following in the tradition of Teddy Roosevelt in pushing for higher taxes on the rich and temporary Social Security tax breaks for the middle class.

December 14, 2011

A few days ago, the Tax Policy Center (TPC) came out with a distributional and revenue score for Newt Gingrich's tax plan.

December 14, 2011

CBO has gotten into the infographic game this year with some good results. Two days ago they released an infographic containing a basic breakdown of the budget and historical trends.

December 13, 2011

Update: Sen. Lieberman's proposed legislation was introduced today. Click here to read CRFB's reaction.

December 13, 2011

House Budget Committee Chair Paul Ryan (R-WI) and Ranking Member Chris Van Hollen (D-MD) will discuss budget process reform today at 1 pm ET at a Capitol Hill forum sponsored by the Peterson-Pew Commission on Budget Reform, a project of CRFB.

December 12, 2011

With so many provisions set to expire at the end of the year, CRFB has released a new paper that details what lawmakers have to extend and how they can do it in a fiscally responsible way.

December 12, 2011
A Weekly Update on Budget and Fiscal Policy Developments and a Look Ahead

Happy Holidaze – The Christmas trees are up. The lights are lit. The shoppers are roaming the malls. The holiday specials are all over the television. The holidays are here and everyone is feeling festive, except perhaps on Capitol Hill, where lawmakers are in a daze working through their legislative list and checking it twice. They want to wrap up everything with a nice bow on top by the end of the week, but partisan fighting threatens to Grinch up the works.

December 12, 2011

One of the most popular budget gimmicks in Washington right now is the war savings gimmick.

December 12, 2011

In an op-ed for The Atlantic, CRFB Senior Policy Director Marc Goldwein made the case for offsetting the costs of the payroll tax cut, AMT patch, and unemployment benefit extension with the chained CPI. He argued that using the chained CPI, which is widely considered to be the most accurate measure of inflation available, makes both technical and budgetary sense.

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