Congress has a long checklist of things it has to do by the end of September. On Tuesday, it informally crossed one thing off when the House passed a "clean" extension of transportation programs through at least the end of the year. The Senate should pass it soon as well.
The Commission on Wartime Contracting in Iraq and Afghanistan, created by Congress in 2008, has issued its final report, showing that there has been anywhere from $30 billion to $60 billion lost due to contract waste or fraud associated with the wars. Luckily, the report not only details the problems that have arisen with contracting over the past decade, but also gives fifteen recommendations on how to remedy the poor performance.
Defense spending is an area within the federal budget where significant savings can be found, and specifically within the military retirement system. Just take a look at the roughly 30 fiscal plans that have been proposed and you will see that several of them recommend savings from not just civilian but military retirement programs too.
On OMB's blog, OMB director Jack Lew talked about his instructions to agencies to cut 5 percent off their 2011 budget for their FY 2013 request. In addition, they are instructed to list additional savings that would result in a 10 percent cut.
Faithful readers of this blog know by now how the trigger contained in the Budget Control Act generally works. The BCA creates a twelve-member Joint Committee that is tasked with finding $1.2 trillion in savings over ten years. If the Committee fails or Congress fails to pass legislation that saves at least $1.2 trillion, a trigger will make up the difference starting in 2013 (unless a balanced budget amendment passes Congress).
The caps on discretionary spending were, of course, the concrete centerpiece of last week's budget deal. Considering the importance of the caps, CBO published a blog explaining how they work and what would happen to discretionary spending over the ten-year window.
First, they go into some background on the caps:
The main savings feature that the debt deal (the Budget Control Act) contained--outside of the joint committee--is the discretionary spending caps. With that in mind, OMB director Jack Lew took to the OMBlog today to explain the distribution of those cuts between defense and non-defense spending (or security and non-security spending if you'd prefer).
Update: CBO has scored Boehner's legislation, showing it to reduce deficits by a total of $850 billion from 2012-2021. The discretionary caps are $1.1 trillion below CBO's March baseline over ten years, but only $840 billion below a baseline that incorporates the final CR.
Clutch Goals -- The U.S. Women’s Soccer team scored an improbable victory over Brazil on Sunday in the Women’s World Cup, overcoming a scoring and manpower deficit with a last-minute goal and sealing the victory through penalty kicks. A similar storyline is playing out in Washington involving a different deficit -- the federal budget deficit. It looks as if negotiations to raise the statutory debt limit and reduce the deficit will also come down to the wire.
In a recent report, CBO estimated the base defense budget from 2012 out through 2030 using the Defense Department's Future Years Defense Program (FYDP) -- DoD's five-year plan for defense spending submitted to Congress in April 2011 -- to project future spending.