Budget Process and Rules
If there's anything people can agree on in Washington, it is that the current budget process is broken. Congress has not passed a budget resolution since 2009, and even when they use the process, they are often late in doing so.
One of the wonkier discussions that arise inside the Washington beltway from time to time is what accounting method to use for federal credit programs. In a new issue brief, CBO weighs in on the argument for and against using "fair value" accounting versus the current method. We provide a brief overview here, but be sure to check out the full report for more details.
Big Day – Today is the big day in budget world. The White House released its fiscal year 2013 budget request. As you can imagine, CRFB has been busy going through the numbers and proposals. CRFB issued a statement earlier today with initial analysis and a paper examining the request is forthcoming. The budget would stabilize the debt at 76% of GDP in 2022.
Expedited rescission authority, a cousin of the line-item veto, has been considered countless times by Congress since the line item veto was declared unconstitutional in 1998. In fact, CRFB president Maya MacGuineas recently testified on this proposal, which can be found here. Yesterday, it has passed the House by a 254-173 vote.
Harvard Law School professor Howell Jackson has an interesting idea in a Reuters op-ed: if fiscal issues are going to be extremely important in the coming years, why not create a process that would encourage Presidential candidates to come up with a fiscal plan?
Baseline Instinct – The Congressional Budget Office (CBO) on Tuesday released its much-awaited 2012 Budget and Economic Outlook. According to CBO, if current law is maintained, deficits will decrease significantly in the period from 2013-2022; but that is a big if. Under the current law baseline, a major reason that deficits will shrink is due to major revenue boosts because the 2001/2003 tax cuts will expire and the Alternative Minimum Tax (AMT) will hit more middle-income families.
Super Not So Duper – The word “super” has lost its luster lately. The failure of the Super Committee and the need for a super majority in the Senate to pass virtually anything have contributed to record-low approval ratings for Congress. Meanwhile, Super PACs are pouring unlimited funds into campaigns, resulting in even more negative advertising than usual and rising concerns that the political process is being distorted.
As we mentioned in our press release earlier this week, the House Budget Committee has been working on legislation to reform the current budget process. Three legislative proposals were advanced by the Committee on Tuesday, in addition to another on the budget resolution that will be brought up soon.
Today, CRFB president Maya MacGuineas testified to the House Rules subcommittee on Legislative and Budget Process on HR 114, a biennial budgeting proposal, which would have the budget and appropriations determined on two-year cycles instead of annually. HR 114, the Biennial Budgeting and Appropriations Act, is not part of the package of process reform bills that the House is marking up this week.
Stating the Obvious – President Obama delivers the State of the Union address Tuesday evening. The SOTU is the annual rite where presidents attempt to hit the “reset” button and lay out their agenda for the coming year.