The Bottom Line

June 2, 2014

The Ways and Means Committee voted on a number of tax bills last week, including legislation that would restore and expand bonus depreciation at a cost of $360 billion over the next decade (including interest). Although there are reasonable arguments for and against this measure, permanent changes to depreciation schedules should be dealt with in the context of comprehensive tax reform and fully offset so as not to add to long-term deficits.

May 30, 2014

Reps. John Delaney (D-MD) and Tom Cole (R-OK) introduced the Social Security Commission Act of 2014 today, which would establish a statutory commission with a mandate to recommend ways to make Social Security solvent for at least 75 years. The policy prescriptions would then be subject to an up-or-down vote in Congress.

May 29, 2014

Reps. Peter Welch (D-VT) and Keith Rothfus (R-PA) have officially re-launched a bipartisan caucus in the House looking to promote the use of high-quality, low-cost drugs.

May 29, 2014

The Ways and Means Committee is continuing to work through the set of over 50 tax breaks that expired at the end of 2013, choosing certain provisions to extend permanently. While scrutinizing which tax extenders are worth keeping would normally be commendable, the Committee ignores the cost of making these tax breaks permanent, which would add to the debt.

May 28, 2014

President Obama announced yesterday the number of troops that would be remaining in Afghanistan beyond the end of the year. While these levels are not final until the Afghan government agrees, they show the most likely way forward for U.S. military involvement in the country.

May 23, 2014

Credit programs involving loans and loan guarantees are accounted for differently than most other programs in the federal budget. Whereas other programs record outlays and revenue as cash goes out and comes in, the cost of credit programs are calculated by recording the lifetime cost of the loan/guarantee in the year it is originated. However, a new report from the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) raises questions as to whether we are measuring these programs appropriately.

May 22, 2014
302(b) Allocations Approved for FY2015

Today the Senate Appropriations Committee approved 302(b) spending allocations for FY2015 appropriations at the beginning of a markup for the Military Construction-Veterans' Affairs and Agriculture bills. These spending levels determine how much the appropriations subcommittees have to distribute within their respective bills.

May 22, 2014
What’s Missing in the Earmark Debate

Maya MacGuineas, President of the Committee for a Responsible Budget, wrote a commentary that appeared in the Wall Street Journal Washington Wire. It is reposted here.

May 21, 2014

Strict limits on discretionary spending have made it difficult for policymakers to fund everything they want. Yet instead of making hard choices and cutting low-priority spending, policymakers have sometimes turned to gimmicks to allow them to accomodate the spending caps while not actually cutting spending. Reps.

May 20, 2014

The White House issued a statement Monday saying that the President's senior advisers would recommend vetoing H.R. 4435, the annual defense authorization bill reported by the House Armed Services Committee because it rejected meaningful reforms and ignored more than $50 billion in savings outlined by the Pentagon in its FY 2015 budget. 

May 20, 2014
Forget Bipartisanship – We Need Generationship

Alan Simpson, one of the chairs of the Simpson-Bowles Fiscal Commission and a member of the Committee for a Responsible Budget, co-wrote an op-ed with Ryan Schoenike, executive director of the Can Kicks Back, that appeared in the Dallas Morning News. It is reposted here.

May 20, 2014

Congressman Jim Renacci (R-OH) introduced the The Federal Financial Statement Transparency Act of 2014 today. This legislation would make major changes to the composition and structure of the Federal Accounting Standards Advisory Board (FASAB), which recommends the standards used in the federal government's financial statements.

May 19, 2014

Appropriations season is in full swing. The House has already passed the Legislative Branch and Military Construction-Veterans Affairs bills, while the Senate Appropriations Commitee is scheduled to officially set 302(b) allocations and mark up the Military Construction-VA and Agriculture bills this Thursday.

May 16, 2014

As the Senate Appropriations Committee makes its 302(b) allocations, divvying up funding among the 12 appropriations bills, it will have to deal with an unpleasant surprise from CBO's latest baseline: lower estimated Federal Housing Administration receipts.

May 16, 2014

The mortgage interest deduction has long been targeted as a tax expenditure by advocates of tax reform. In a new paper, the Tax Policy Center's Amanda Eng looks at four different options for replacing the deduction (and in one option the property tax deduction as well) with a credit. These options would all raise revenue while tailoring the subsidy toward lower-income taxpayers.

May 15, 2014

As the Senate works this week to increase the debt, Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL) outlined a series of reforms to Social Security, Medicare, and retirement accounts in a speech at the National Press Club on Tuesday.

May 14, 2014

We have already shown how both federal health care spending and revenue projections have been revised downward by $900 billion and $4.2 trillion, respectively, through 2021 since CBO's March 2011 baseline. Another story -- one that is a continuation of a trend since the Great Recession -- is the deterioration of Social Security's finances.

May 14, 2014

The Peter G. Peterson Foundation held its 2014 Fiscal Summit today, bringing together a number of current and former policymakers, experts, commentators and other prominent figures to discuss the nation's fiscal challenges. 

May 14, 2014
Senator Coburn Pledges a Separate Deficit Vote

The Senate is moving forward with tax extenders legislation, renewing a variety of breaks that expired at the end of last year for research, small business, and wind energy, among other provisions.

May 13, 2014

We have always have been proponents of paying for the costs of policies such as the tax extenders and doc fixes, since doing so would make a significant improvement in the long-term debt situation. Unfortunately, even a strict adherence to pay-as-you-go rules (PAYGO) leaves the debt on a substantial upward path.

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