Fiscal Policy in the News
Yesterday, the Washington Post Editorial Board published an editorial urging lawmakers to use the looming shutdown as an impetus to come up with a serious response to the long-term debt picture rather than another short-term stopgap. As we have written many
Yesterday, National Journal hosted "Fiscal Fallout: What is 'Responsible' in Today's Fiscal Reality," a policy summit convening experts to discuss soultions for the long-term debt problem.
In his column in today's Wall Street Journal and an accompanying audio clip, David Wessel takes on the question before Washington: Is the budget deficit falling, or does it pose a serious threat to the nation's prosperity? His answer: Yes to both. On one hand, the budget deficit is shrinking, due in large part to the recovering economy but also due to some of the savings lawmakers have enacted over the past year.
This week Fix the Debt supporters from around the country visited Washington, DC to ask their representatives to work together and address the national debt. Members of Congress got the message that their constituents want them to act responsibly to achieve a comprehensive, bipartisan solution.
After weeks of deliberation and two and a half weeks after a key deadline passed, we finally have a deal on student loans. A bipartisan group of Senators and the White House hashed out a deal to reform student loan interest rates, well after the 3.4 percent rate on subsidized Stafford loans had reverted to 6.8 percent on July 1.
Former CBO director and CRFB board member Alice Rivlin was interviewed by the Fiscal Times Sunday on the state of our budget and economy. Rivlin emphasized that while short-term improvements have been made in terms of the current fiscal outlook and economic recovery, there are still numerous long-term problems that remain.
Among developed countries the US is unique in taxes in a number of different ways. One claim to fame is the fact that the U.S. now has the highest marginal corporate tax rate. The current marginal rate in the U.S. remains at 35 percent while the average marginal rate of the OECD countries, excluding the U.S., is a full 12 percentage points lower at 23 percent. At the same time, the revenue collected by the corporate tax is low by international standards due to the number of corporate tax provisions which make the effective rate not nearly as high.
When the financial crisis began at the end of 2007, it soon became clear that the government would need to run higher deficits in response. Tax revenue fell, spending on "automatic stabilizers" rose, and policymakers enacted new spending to stimulate the economy. At that time, the debt level was lower and in line with historical averages, giving lawmakers the room to borrow what they needed to adequately respond.
This morning, Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke testified before the Joint Economic Committee regarding the current economic climate. He noted that the economy has begun to show signs of life, attributing the accelerating pace of GDP growth to gradual improvements in credit conditions and the housing market. He also argued that the Fed should continue its quantitative easing at its current pace until the labor market improves sufficiently.