Fiscal Policy in the News
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.
Bittersweet – The madness is here. The NCAA tournament field has been reduced to 16 teams, and after this weekend there will be only four remaining. While the budget field has been reduced to two, don’t expect a clean conclusion like the one we will see in Atlanta. In Washington, the brackets are broken before the action begins (for a really scary bracket, check this out).
Madness Returns – It’s that time of year again. Predictions are made and office pools are formed. Yes, budget wonks are pitting budget against budget to see which will prevail. And we hear there’s a basketball thing going on. Congress is trying to wrap up this week a spending plan for the rest of this year and a budget for next year ahead of a two-week Easter recess. Meanwhile, spring has begun and debate over how to address the national debt continues. Will a debt deal defy prognosticators and make a Cinderella run?
Despite a growing chorus of debt deniers, most economics continue to agree that putting in place a long-term plan to responsibly address our growing debt would help promote long-term economic growth and stability.
Big Week – The budget once again takes center stage this week. House Budget Committee Chair Paul Ryan (R-WI) released his fiscal year 2014 budget blueprint on Tuesday. His counterpart, Senate Budget Committee Chair Patty Murray (D-WA) will follow suit this week as well. Meanwhile, the Senate Appropriations Committee moved forward a spending plan for the rest of this fiscal year, and President Obama is making the rounds on Capitol Hill to drum up support for a grand bargain on the national debt.
After the Storm – Winter Storm Saturn moved through the Washington, DC area on Wednesday and was given the nickname "Snowquester" by the inside-the-beltway crowd, named after the budget sequester that kicked in last week. After much hype the storm brought little snow within the Washington city limits, causing many to compare the storm to its namesake as an over-hyped event with little impact. Yet, locations just an hour west of the DC Metropolitan area saw snow accumulation of a foot or more. Is it possible the sequester will have a similar impact?
Sequester Week – It’s all about sequestration this week as the March 1 deadline for the $85 billion in across-the-board cuts looms (read all about the sequester here). The deadline at the end of the week is the culmination of a chain of events begun a year and a half ago with the Budget Control Act (BCA).
Honoring Leaders – We celebrated President’s Day on Monday, the day we recognize those who have led this great nation. The House and Senate are honoring such leadership by taking the week off while a couple of key fiscal deadlines approach. While names like Washington and Lincoln often come to mind when thinking of presidents, we’ve had many other men occupy the office that we can learn something from, for better or for worse, even the ones we may not remember.
Happy New Year – The Chinese New Year was ushered in over the weekend and 2013 is the year of the Snake. According to at least one horoscope, “This 2013 year of Snake is meant for steady progress and attention to detail. Focus and discipline will be necessary for you to achieve what you set out to create." Those born in the year of the Snake are said to approach problems rationally and logically and to be financially secure.
The Night the Lights Went Out – The football gods intervened at Super Bowl XLVII on Sunday, turning a rout into a tight contest that went down to the wire by sending a power outage through the Superdome that suspended play, as well as the momentum for the Baltimore Ravens. The Ravens escaped in the end with a defensive stand in the red zone. Washington is suffering from its own power failure caused by a surge of partisanship running through the system. But in this case, getting defensive will only make things worse.