‘Line’ Items: Big Events Edition

(Go) Big Events – The Academy Awards and the NBA All-Star Game competed for attention Sunday night. Both events are more about showmanship than substance. The same can be said about the fiscal debate, except without Billy Crystal or Kobe Bryant. There were some big budget policy events last week as well that advanced the "Go Big" message for a comprehensive fiscal plan. While there were no slam dunks or musical numbers, support is definitely growing for real solutions. Taking a cue from another big event, the Daytona 500, this blog was delayed for a day; hopefully, there won’t be any fiery crashes.

Scoring the Candidates – The Republican presidential primary has been more drawn out than the Oscars ceremony, with virtually everyone involved getting a chance to give an acceptance speech. Primaries Tuesday in Arizona and Michigan may or may not clear things up. In order to better inform the debate over fiscal issues in the campaign, CRFB’s U.S. Budget Watch project unveiled at a forum in Washington, DC a new report last week, “Primary Numbers: The GOP Candidates and the National Debt,” that examined how the policy proposals of the four main candidates would impact the federal budget. The report garnered a great deal of attention. See for yourself how the candidates fared and stay tuned for more. U.S. Budget Watch is an ongoing project and President Obama will be addressed in a forthcoming study.

Hearing a Lot about the Budget – Congress is back in session this week after a week-long recess and the President’s FY 2013 budget request is high on the docket with a slew of hearings on both sides of the Capitol. Read our analysis of the President’s budget. While there will be lots of talk, not much action is expected. The House leadership has promised to produce a budget resolution, but the Senate has already closed the door on floor consideration, though the Senate Budget Committee may mark up a budget resolution. Once again Congress will fail to produce a budget. Time for budget reform. Yes, it really is.

Tax Reform in the Spotlight – Both President Obama and former Governor Mitt Romney gave tax reform a boost last week with reform proposals. President Obama unveiled a corporate tax reform plan that would lower tax rates while broadening the base by eliminating some tax expenditures. Governor Romney put forth a broad tax reform plan lowering corporate and individual rates while also eliminating some tax breaks. We did a preliminary analysis of the Romney plan as an addendum to the U.S. Budget Watch report. Both plans took a page from the Simpson-Bowles fundamental tax reform proposal that lowered rates and simplified the tax code by eliminating many tax expenditures, although neither got specific about which ones would be on the chopping block.

"Go Big" Goes to Harvard – CRFB’s National Debt Tour kicked off last week with its first stop at the Institute of Politics at Harvard University. Sen. Mark Warner (D-VA), former Rep. Vin Weber (R-MN), Honeywell International Chairman and CEO David Cote and CRFB’s president Maya MacGuineas discussed the fiscal challenge facing the country and how to resolve it. The event was moderated by Fortune's Nina Easton.

Hoyer Wants to Go Big This Year – Minority Whip Steny Hoyer gave a speech Monday at the centrist think tank Third Way, where he made the case that Congress can and should enact a “Go Big” deficit reduction plan this year. He stated, “[c]ontrary to what some believe, we cannot afford to set this work aside. I’m here to give urgency to the pursuit now of an agreement designed to achieve fiscal sustainability over the long-term.”

Buffett Wants Simpson-Bowles Vote – Investor Warren Buffett said on CNBC’s Squawk Box Monday that he hopes the Simpson-Bowles' plan gets drafted into legislation and gets a vote in Congress this year, saying the election should not be a barrier. “The American people, I think, are entitled to have that happen.”

 

Key Upcoming Dates (all times ET) (Note: Previous version of this blog had incorrect dates for Senate Appropriations hearings)

 

February 28

  • House Appropriations hearing on the budget request for Commerce, Justice, Science and Related Agencies with Attorney General Eric Holder at 9:00 am.
  • House Appropriations hearing on the budget request, Indian Health Service for Interior, Environment and Related Agencies at 9:30 am.
  • House Appropriations hearing on the budget request for Agriculture, Rural Development, Food and Drug Administration and Related Agencies at 10:00 am.
  • House Appropriations hearing on the budget request, Transportation Security Administration, for Homeland Security with John Pistole, Administrator, Transportation Security Administration, at 11:00 am.
  • House Appropriations hearing on the budget request, Bureau of Indian Affairs for Interior, Environment and Related Agencies at 1:00 pm.
  • Senate Budget Committee hearing on the President’s FY 2013 budget request for Defense at 9:30 am.
  • House Budget Committee hearing on health and retirement security at 10 am.
  • Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee hearing on the FY 2013 Interior budget request at 10 am.
  • House Ways and Means Committee hearing on the Health and Human Services budget request at 1 pm.
  • House Appropriations hearing on the budget request for Energy and Water Development and Related Agencies with Energy Secretary Steven Chu at 2 pm.
  • Senate Foreign Relations Committee hearing on national security and foreign policy priorities in the FY 2013 budget at 2 pm.
  • GOP primary contests in Arizona and Michigan.

February 29

  • Senate Budget Committee hearing on “Putting Health Care Spending on a Sustainable Path” at 10 am.
  • House Appropriations hearing on the budget for State, Foreign Operations and Related programs with Secretary of State Hillary Clinton at 10 am.
  • House Appropriations hearing on the budget, Customs and Border Patrol, for Homeland Security, with Michael Fisher, Chief, US Border Patrol at 10:00 am.
  • House Appropriations hearing on the budget for Energy and Water Development and Related Agencies, with Thomas D'Agostino, Administrator, National Nuclear Security Administration, at 10:00 am.
  • House Appropriations hearing on the budget for Agriculture, Rural Development, Food and Drug Administration and Related Agencies, with Margaret Hamburg, M.D., Commissioner, Food and Drugs, FDA, at 10:00 am.
  • House Appropriations hearing on the budget, EPA, for Interior, Environment and Related Agencies, with Lisa jackson, Administrator, EPA, at 1:00 pm.
  • House Appropriations hearing on the budget for Commerce, Justice, Science and Related Agencies, with the Honorable John P. Holdren, Director, Office of Science and Technology Policy, Executive Office of the President, at 2:00 pm.
  • House Appropriations hearing on the budget for Agriculture, Rural Development, Food and Drug Administration and Related Agencies, with Phyllis Fong, Inspector General, Department of Agriculture, at 2:00 pm.
  • House Budget Committee hearing on the FY 2013 Defense budget request at 2 pm.
  • US Dept. of Commerce's Bureau of Economic Analysis releases its second estimate of 2011 fourth quarter GDP.

 

March 1

  • House Appropriations hearing on the budget, Fish and Wildlife Service, for Interior, Environment and Related Agencies, with Dan Ashe, Director, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, at 9:00 am.
  • House Appropriations hearing on the budget for Commerce, Justice, Science and Related Agencies, with the Honorable David J. Kappos, Under Secretary of Commerce for Intellectual Property and Director of the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office, at 10:00 am.
  • House Appropriations Budget Overview Hearing for Military Construction, Veterans Affairs and Related Agencies, at 10:00 am.
  • House Appropriations hearing on the budget for Agriculture, Rural Development, Food and Drug Administration and Related Agencies, with Dallas Tonsager, Under Secretary for Rural Development, Department of Agriculture, 10:30 am.
  • House Appropriations hearing on the budget, Navy/Marine Corps, for Defense, at 1:00 pm.
  • Senate Appropriations hearing on impact of the Continuing Resolution on the Department of Defense

 

March 3

  • Washington Caucus

 

March 6

  • Super Tuesday - presidential contests in Alaska, Georgia, Idaho, Massachusetts, North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma, Tennessee, Vermont and Virginia.

 

March 6-10

  • Wyoming Caucus

 

March 9

  • Dept. of Labor's Bureau of Labor Statistics releases February 2012 employment data.

 

March 10

  • Presidential contests in Kansas and the Virgin Islands

 

March 13

  • Presidential contests in Alabama, Mississippi, and Hawaii

 

March 16

  • Dept. of Labor's Bureau of Labor Statistics releases February 2012 Consumer Price Index (CPI) data.

 

March 17

  • Missouri Caucus

 

March 18

  • Puerto Rico primary

 

March 19

  • Oregon GOP Debate sponsored by PBS at 9 pm.

 

March 20

  • Illinois primary

 

March 21

  • House Appropriations Hearing on the budget, Military Construction, Veterans Affairs and Related Agencies, with Eric Shinseki, Secretary of Veterans Affairs. 

 

March 24

  • Louisiana primary

 

March 29

  • US Dept. of Commerce's Bureau of Economic Analysis releases its third and final estimate of 2011 fourth quarter GDP.

 

April 3

  • Presidential contests in DC, Maryland, Wisconsin, and Texas

 

April 6

  • Dept. of Labor's Bureau of Labor Statistics releases March 2012 employment data.

 

April 13

  • Dept. of Labor's Bureau of Labor Statistics releases March 2012 Consumer Price Index (CPI) data.

April 17

  • Tax Day! Federal income tax returns are due.