The Bottom Line

January 10, 2012

You may have already read the news yesterday, but current OMB director Jack Lew will be replacing Bill Daley as President Obama's chief of staff at the end of January.

January 10, 2012

In 2009, President Obama created the SAVE Award (Securing Americans Value and Efficiency), which is given each year to the federal employee who submits the best idea to increase government efficiency and ensure that taxpayers' money is being spent wisely.

January 9, 2012

Remember when we said last November that Congress had a lot to do by the end of the year? Well, they took care of FY 2012 appropriations, but everything else is now left to be determined or temporarily extended by the end of February (at least they have an extra day). The payroll tax cut, unemployment insurance, and doc fix extensions that passed will expire by February 29 and there could even be pressure to extend the AMT patch and the "tax extenders" that were neglected last month.

January 9, 2012

As the GOP primary season moves along to New Hampshire, we continue to look for signs that the candidates are at least as concerned with the country’s fiscal fiasco as voters are. The budget deficit was high on the list of concerns of Iowa caucus goers, according to exit polling, with slightly more than a third of people polled saying it was the most important issue for them.

January 9, 2012
A Weekly Update on Budget and Fiscal Policy Developments and a Look Ahead

Happy New Year? – A New Year has been rung in, and most of the public confidence in Congress has been wrung out. The latest poll shows that only 5 percent of likely voters rate Congress as doing a good or excellent job. No doubt that the failure of the Super Committee and the brinkmanship over the debt ceiling and government funding in 2011 contributed significantly to the historically low standing.

January 6, 2012

After hinting at how they would cut defense spending yesterday, the Obama Administration has given out another small detail of its upcoming budget. According to the Washington Post's Ed O' Keefe, the White House will request a 0.5 percent pay increase for federal employees in FY 2013, on the heels of a two-year pay freeze.

January 6, 2012

As is the case every first Friday of the month, BLS released its jobs data, which for December showed another solid month for employment. About 200,000 new jobs were added and the unemployment rate fell to 8.5 percent. The underemployment rate, a broader measure which includes workers who have stopped looking for a job and people who are working part-time for economic reasons, fell from 15.6 percent to 15.2 percent in December; this measure has declined by more than a percentage point over the last three months. 

January 5, 2012

In evaluating the impact of Republican candidates' tax plans, Tax Policy Center has been an invaluable resource. After having scored Newt Gingrich's and Rick Perry's plans for revenue and distributional impact, they have done the same for Mitt Romney. The results are also similar, showing revenue losses even when compared against a baseline that extends the 2001/2003 tax cuts.

January 5, 2012

As we mentioned on Tuesday, Defense Secretary Leon Panetta was scheduled to roll out the strategic outline for the Pentagon's future. Earlier today, the Obama Administration released its strategic guidance report and held a press conference with both President Obama and Secretary Panetta speaking.

January 4, 2012

As the title of the blog suggests, the Urban Institute has a video with senior fellow Melissa Favreault analyzing the Social Security piece of Bowles-Simpson. You can view that video below.

January 4, 2012

Late in December, the Treasury Department released its annual Financial Report of the United States Government. The release date is fitting, since it is understandable that Treasury would put out a document with very bleak projections while everyone was heading out for the holidays.

January 3, 2012

So you thought all of the 2011 retrospectives were done now that we're in the new year? Well, we have one more to contribute.

The first part of our lookback on 2011 is our favorite 11 blogs of 2011. Considering that we wrote 630 blogs last year, narrowing it down to our choice 11 was very difficult.

The blogs of the year address health care, Social Security, taxes, the long-term budget outlook, and various fiscal policy developments that arose as Congress and the President turned their attention toward addressing the debt.

January 3, 2012

According to today's New York Times, a report from Defense Secretary Leon Panetta will be revealed this week on how the Pentagon will meet its required spending reductions. The discretionary cuts agreed to by Congress and the White House this summer called for about $450 billion in defense reductions over ten years.

December 23, 2011
Fight Over Offsetting Longer-Term Extensions Ahead

Congress fittingly capped a tumultuous 2011 by snuffing out yet another fiscal showdown while managing to kick the can of tougher decisions down the road. Both the Senate and House this morning approved, by unanimous consent, of a two-month extension of the payroll tax holiday and other various extenders. The most promising aspect of the whole ordeal is that the cost of the package was fully paid for (unlike last December’s tax deal).

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.

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