The Bottom Line

November 22, 2011
Congress Begs a Crisis to Fix the Debt

CRFB board member Rudy Penner recently authored a CNN Money op-ed in which he writes that Congress has delayed the necessary fiscal adjustments for so long that now they have become quite painful, resulting in nothing but political gridlock. He also states that while he hopes an agreement will be reached over the next year, the most likely scenario is that a fiscal crisis will be the only thing that can force Congress to act.

November 21, 2011
A Weekly Update on Budget and Fiscal Policy Developments and a Look Ahead

SuperBad – Well, they did it after all. In an amazing feat of utter failure, the so-called Super Committee managed to under-perform the already low expectations and come up with absolutely nothing. While the official deadline for the panel to issue recommendations is Wednesday, it must submit any proposal to the Congressional Budget Office 48 hours ahead of time, making today the effective deadline.

November 21, 2011

When Congress raised the debt ceiling in last August’s Budget Control Act (BCA), it mandated at least $1.2 trillion in further savings by 2021, from either Plan A, the bipartisan Super Committee, or Plan B, automatic cuts in spending -- also known as a sequester. The sequester would have automatically been turned off if a plan from the Super Committee to save at least $1.2 trillion were enacted.

However, with a Super Committee failure expected to be official very shortly, it is important that Congress leave Plan B in place rather than overriding it for three main reasons:

November 18, 2011

As we said earlier this week, the Super Committee needs to be finding ways to negotiate its way up to larger savings, not working to push savings down to find the lowest common denominator. Unfortunately, the trend seems to be continuing. According to recent reports, Super Committee members have been working on a possible package of between $500 billion and $1 trillion in savings.

November 18, 2011

After an eleventh-hour deal that included a dramatic showdown in April and a minor standoff in September, it's nice to see a continuing resolution deadline that goes by without shutdown threats.

November 18, 2011

Today, Senators Mark Kirk (R-IL) and Joe Manchin (D-WV) called for a "Sense of the Senate" resolution pushing for Congress to "Go Big" on deficit reduction using the framework of the Simpson-Bowles proposal. The resolution is a non-binding agreement that a "Go Big" approach needs to be taken towards deficit reduction.

November 17, 2011

The Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget and many others have called on the Super Committee to find two or three times its mandated $1.5 trillion in budget savings. If the Super Committee is unable to agree on all the details before its November 23 deadline around the corner, we hope it will set the stage for continued efforts early next year to "Go Big" in order to keep the momentum going and put serious reforms in place.

November 17, 2011

With the deadline for the Super Committee to come to an agreement nearly here, the Moment of Truth Project, a project of CRFB, has released two new policy papers diving deeper into the Fiscal Commission's recommendations on how to reform federal retirement programs and Medicare cost-sharing rules. These areas of the budget can be a critical element in forging a bipartisan deal that requires shared sacrifice from everyone.

November 17, 2011
Debt Reduction Done Right: An Economic Growth Strategy That Will Work

CRFB president Maya MacGuineas just wrote an essay featured in the Ripon Forum. She writes that the debate over whether the "debt crisis" or the "jobs crisis" is more important misses the point that they are not mutually exclusive and that we can do both at the same time. She argues that debt reduction is a critical element of any economic growth strategy.

November 16, 2011

It's clear that any solution to control our rising debt will have to be bipartisan, not only to enact savings put to see them through and ensure they materialize. That's why CRFB is committed to a bipartisan approach, and is willing to work with lawmakers across the political spectrum who want to tackle our debt challenges.

November 16, 2011

Today in the Washington Post, Fiscal Commission Co-Chairs and CRFB Board Members Al Simpson and Erskine Bowles wrote an op-ed titled, "The Super Committee's Make-or-Break Question," noting that they are not surprised that the Super Committee is going down to the wire to reach an agreement - their experience on the Fiscal Commission taught them how hard this issue is.

November 16, 2011

A group of legislators today staged a rare bipartisan, bicameral show of strength to support the Super Committee and encourage it to “Go Big.” At a Capitol Hill press conference, dozens of senators and representatives from each party united to promote a comprehensive solution now.

We have the greatest chance we’ve seen in a generation to strike a bold agreement that will move us forward on a sustainable fiscal path and spur economic recovery.” House Minority Whip Steny Hoyer (D-MD)

November 16, 2011

Yesterday, Moody's Analytics Chief Economist Mark Zandi penned an article in Politico about the various possible outcomes of the looming Super Committee deadline. His remarks about the benefits of a multi-trillion dollar deficit reduction plan allow us to welcome him to the growing list of members in our Announcement Effect Club. Congrats!

November 16, 2011

Today at 10:30 am ET, Republican and Democratic lawmakers from both the House and the Senate will be holding a press conference pushing Go Big in a last-minute call for the Super Committee to exceed their $1.2 trillion mandate. It could not come at a more opportune time as the Super Committee has entered its final week of deliberations, before the Monday night deadline to hand over proposals to the CBO for scoring.

November 15, 2011

You might think we're about to talk about Social Security reform or how to reform the Sustainable Growth Rate. But what we're actually talking about here is the need for Super Committee members to not be thinking of ways to reduce the overall savings to get a deal, but ways to increase the savings to make the chances of a deal more likely.

With two rounds of deficit reduction offers coming from both sides on the Super Committee, one disappointing trend has emerged: claw-back.

November 14, 2011

Time is Short and We Need to Go Long – The clock is ticking on the Super Committee as its November 23 deadline is now just a week and a half away. It’s now or never for the panel. By looking across the Atlantic, we can see what happens when governments cannot get their act together to address national debt. Some contend that the only hope at this point is a small, face-saving deal.

November 11, 2011

It's amazing how sequences in Washington can repeat themselves. 

November 11, 2011

Both parties are studying cuts in tax expenditures (TEs) as a means to reduce the federal deficit. Super Committee Republicans have offered a proposal to limit the amount of tax expenditures to help generate about $250 billion in new revenues, while Super Committee Democrats have proposed an automatic trigger to limit TEs (a la the Feldstein-Feenberg-MacGuineas approach).

November 10, 2011

This week has seen the emergence of another set of broad outlines from the Democrats and Republicans on the Super Committee, in a process that is somewhat reminiscent of the Boehner-Reid back-and-forth during the debt ceiling debate. After each group made offers two weeks ago, they have come back with new plans that are a little closer to the other side's liking -- but only a little.

November 10, 2011

How does an average American get more involved in the Go Big effort? 

Today, CRFB posted a Citizens' Resource Page to answer just that. As you can expect from the name, the page provides a number of resources for citizens to get engaged in the deficit debate and plenty of links to educational resources and information about the budget.

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