Budget Process and Rules
Today, Reps. Paul Ryan (R-WI) and Chris Van Hollen (D-MD), the two leading members of the House Budget Committee, introduced a bill to give the President expedited rescission authority, a cousin of the line-item veto. The Expedited Line-Item Veto and Rescissions Act would allow the President to submit discretionary spending items to Congress to cancel after spending bills have been passed. If brought to the floor, these cancellations would get an up-or-down vote in Congress.
We talked yesterday about the importance of keeping the trigger, or the automatic sequester of $1.2 trillion in spending cuts, in place in order to help bring both sides of the aisle back to the negotiating table to enact smart and forward-looking reforms to the budget.
The President’s Plan for Economic Growth and Deficit Reduction included a detailed legislative proposal intended to enforce a declining path for the federal debt, beginning in 2013. This “debt trigger” mechanism is similar to a proposal that the Peterson-Pew Commission on Budget Reform has developed over the last two years.
Budget process reform is back in vogue. Coming on the heels of yesterday’s hearings about budget process in both the House and Senate, Senators Jeff Sessions (R-AL) and Olympia Snowe (R-ME) have introduced a bill that would reform pieces of the budget process to avoid certain gimmicks and make other improvements. Their "Honest Budget Act" would,
Congress is getting serious about considering reforms to the dysfunctional budget process.
The Senate Budget Committee is holding a hearing on budget process reform called "Improving the Budget Process: Strategies for More Effective Congressional Budgeting", and it will include such topics as biennial budgeting and multi-year budgeting.
The destruction and devastation caused by Hurricane Irene is of serious concern, and addressing it will come at a real cost. Yet even while both parties agree that more federal money will be necessary to help pay for relief and recovery, some have argued that these additional costs must be offset through other spending cuts.
To the Shores of Tripoli – With President Obama on vacation and Congress in recess, most eyes are turned away from Washington and towards developments overseas. The Middle East is being closely watched with a strongman in Libya on the verge of falling and another in Syria involved in bloody fighting to stay in power. But Europe also is worthy of attention with the debt crisis there compelling leaders to discuss major fiscal and economic policy changes.
As the world continues to struggle with the economic recovery and increasingly overwhelming debt levels, many are looking to Switzerland’s rather novel method of controlling its government debt, the Swiss “debt brake.” Germany has recently adopted a partial debt brake rule, and there are some discussions taking place about a debt brake rule to cover the entire set of euro zone countries.
The focus in Washington on deficit reduction has produced a slew of balanced budget amendment proposals this year. Many lawmakers see a balanced budget amendment (BBA) to the U.S. Constitution as critical to reducing the national debt and have pushed to pair it with a debt ceiling increase.