Fiscal Policy in the News
Playing Dead – Lawmakers face several deadlines in coming weeks as the number of days that Congress will be in session dwindles. Deadlines loom at the end of the month for highway funding and student loans.
Undead Ends – Recent reports of disturbing behavior have raised the specter of a zombie apocalypse, where the undead overrun civilization. Flesh/brain-eating creatures aren’t the only things that don’t want to die. Political gridlock also keeps coming back and threatens to make a wasteland out of the political system. Policymakers cannot agree on a budget blueprint at a time when we most need a fiscal plan that shows the way out of the depths of debt. The appropriations process lingers on; a slowly moving, virtually-lifeless corpse.
Heat Is On – Summer had its traditional kick-off with Memorial Day weekend and the temperatures in DC rose to the occasion. If only the same could be said of the city's political process. As the November election gets closer, temperatures will continue to rise this summer, along with the debt. But will the best solutions rise to the top? Meanwhile, the fiscal cliff also gets closer and will become hotter to handle.
Update: The text has been updated to include spending growth numbers for President Bush excluding financial rescue programs.
Much Not to ‘Like’ – Facebook had its initial public offering (IPO) on Friday. The hype surrounding the offering illustrated the prominence of social networking in our economy and society. Yet, for all the lofty numbers involved, they pale in comparison to the federal budget.
The 2012 Fiscal Summit presented by the Peter G. Peterson Foundation is today. Watch live here now and follow on Twitter with #FiscalSummit.
Speakers include former President Bill Clinton, Speaker of the House John Boehner, House Budget Committee Chair Paul Ryan, House Budget Committee Ranking Member Chris Van Hollen, Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner, Senator Rob Portman, Travelers Companies, Inc. Chairman and CEO Jay Fishman, and former Senator and Fiscal Commission Co-Chair Alan Simpson.
Winter is Coming – HBO’s “Game of Thrones” has a legion of devoted fans. The show deftly combines mystical elements with real-world political intrigue. Of course, the gratuitous sex and violence may also play a role in its popularity. The fictional capital of King’s Landing could be mistaken for Washington, DC except for the (slightly) better sanitation in our capital. King’s Landing is filled with plotting and backstabbing and is currently under siege.
A Galaxy Far, Far Away – Friday was Stars Wars Day, the annual observance of the popular movie series that plays on the date, as in May the Fourth (be with you). The franchise seems as strong as ever, having survived Jar Jar Binks and returning to the big screen again; this time in 3-D glory. The classic battle between good and evil portrayed in the films is timeless and offers many lessons for us today.
Play On – The NHL playoffs are under way. The Red Wings were clipped, the Sharks sunk, the Canucks cannot, and the Penguins were iced. In Washington, fans are holding their breath. Will the Caps grind out a win over the defending champion Bruins, or will they suffer yet another early exit? Meanwhile, there is plenty of action away from the ice. Both parties continue to play off of each other when it comes to fiscal matters. The same excuses and insults are shot back at one another like a hockey puck, with no one seemingly aiming for the net.
Tax Reform Cometh…Eventually – Today is Tax Day, when federal tax returns are due. Procrastinators have DC Emancipation Day, a holiday in the District of Columbia celebrating the day President Lincoln freed the slaves there, to thank for the extra day to file. The law prohibits Tax Day from falling on a weekend or federal or state holiday. Congress returns from a two-week hiatus just in time for lawmakers to take advantage of the tax filing deadline to promote their favorite tax reforms.