Budget Process and Rules
Highway to Nowhere – Sen. Jim Bunning (R-KY) has blocked a vote on temporarily extending unemployment and COBRA benefits, the Medicare “doc fix” as well as some surface transportation programs funded through the Highway Trust Fund because the $10 billion cost is not offset. He wants unused economic stimulus funds to cover the cost. The Department of Transportation has furloughed 2,000 workers in response.
An editorial yesterday in the Wall Street Journal called on the Administration to support the reform of the two housing financing enterprises originally sponsored and now owned by the federal government, Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, and at a minimum, to show the full cost of those organizations in its budget.
Ever since Scott Brown's victory in Massachusetts, there has been a lot of talk about Democrats using budget reconciliation to pass a comprehensive health care bill in the Senate. A New York Times article by David Herszenhorn describes reconciliation as an "evening out."
Update: Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell has said he will make Republican appointments to the deficit commission.
Snow Job – Just hours after Senators Max Baucus (D-MT) and Charles Grassley (R-IA) announced they had reached a deal on a jobs bill, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) plowed it under, saying it was too bloated with provisions not related to creating jobs. The Senate will consider the scaled-down version Reid crafted on February 22 when it returns from its week-long President’s Day recess.
Here are the highlights from this weekend’s editorials on fiscal and budget policy:
The New York Times criticized Republican healthcare reform proposals as not doing enough to fix the current system or to contain costs. Proposals such as health savings accounts, high-risk pools, and allowing insurance to be purchased in any state, they argued, would either not drive down costs enough or would actually push up premiums for certain groups.
Although our initial analysis of the President's Budget focused on his ten-year budget plan, the Budget itself includes much, much more.
As D.C. slowly emerged from under the white blanket of the blizzard, discussion turned today to how the U.S. can rise out of a sea of red ink. Three fiscal experts, all members of the Peterson-Pew Commission on Budget Reform, testified before the Senate Budget Committee today on the need for the U.S. to set fiscal goals now to stabilize the debt and place the nation on a more sustainable fiscal course.