‘Line’ Items: New Year Edition 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. There will be opportunities for Washington to turn things around in 2012 and find comprehensive, bipartisan solutions. The expiration of the 2001/2003/2010 tax cuts will offer an opportunity for fundamental tax reform and the impending sequester triggered by the inability of the Super Committee to agree on deficit reduction can prompt policymakers to agree on a bipartisan “Go Big” fiscal plan in order to turn the sequester off. However, with 2012 being an election year with control of Congress and the White House at stake, the tendency to continue the partisan bickering will be great.
Brief Respite for Payroll Tax Holiday – Congress managed one more nail-biter at the end of the year when it approved of an extension of the 2 percent payroll tax cut, expanded unemployment benefits and a doc fix for two months just before Christmas. Lawmakers now have until the end of February to agree on longer-term extensions. Paying for the extensions remains the key sticking point between the two parties. A recent CRFB paper laid out the costs involved and offered ideas for dealing with the extensions in a fiscally responsible manner.
Campaign 2012 Officially Under Way – The beginning of the year brought the beginning of the election season. After months of debates and intrigue, people are finally voting. Iowa held its caucus last week and the New Hampshire Primary is Tuesday. Fiscal issues will figure prominently in this campaign; thirty-four percent of Iowa Caucus participants said that the budget deficit was the top issue. To help make the campaign debate over fiscal policy constructive, CRFB has re-launched its US Budget Watch project with 12 principles for fiscal responsibility that voters should demand from candidates. We have also provided questions that candidates should answer on fiscal policy.
Key Upcoming Dates (all times ET)
January 10, 2012
- New Hampshire Primary.
January 16, 2012
- South Carolina GOP debate sponsored by Fox News at 9 pm.
January 17, 2012
- The House of Representatives commences the Second Session of the 112th Congress.
January 19, 2012
- South Carolina GOP debate sponsored by CNN.
- Dept. of Labor's Bureau of Labor Statistics releases December 2011Consumer Price Index data.
January 21, 2012
- South Carolina Primary.
January 23, 2012
- The Senate convenes for the Second Session of the 112th Congress.
- Florida GOP debate sponsored by The St. Petersburg Times, NBC News, and The National Journal.
January 24, 2012
- President Obama will give the State of the Union Address.
January 26, 2012
- Florida GOP debate sponsored by CNN.
January 27, 2012
- Dept. of Commerce releases 2011 fourth quarter GDP data.
January 31, 2012
- Florida Primary.
February 3, 2012
- Dept. of Labor's Bureau of Labor Statistics releases January 2012 employment data.
February 4, 2012
- Nevada Caucus.
February 6, 2012
- The President must submit his FY 2013 budget request to Congress by this date.
February 7, 2012
- GOP presidential contests in Colorado, Minnesota and Missouri.
February 17, 2012
- Dept. of Labor's Bureau of Labor Statistics releases January 2012 Consumer Price Index (CPI) data.
February 22, 2012
- Arizona GOP debate sponsored by CNN at 8 pm.
February 28, 2012
- GOP presidential contests in Arizona and Michigan.
February 29, 2012
- The temporary payroll tax cut, unemployment insurance, and doc fix extensions will expire.
- US Dept. of Commerce's Bureau of Economic Analysis releases its second estimate of 2011 fourth quarter GDP.