Budget Process and Rules
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.
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.