House of Representatives
Lots of Assignments Due After Recess – Lawmakers are home this week for the Memorial Day recess. When they come back next week they will have a lot of unfinished business. Congress was unable to enact a war supplemental or “tax extenders” legislation before adjourning. Disagreement over paying for the huge costs of the bills has delayed their passage.
In a publicly released letter to the co-chairs of President Obama’s fiscal commission, Rep.
We at CRFB believe in the Wizard of Oz theory of deficit reduction. Passing the right package of spending cuts and tax increases requires a brain – so that we stabilize our debt in the most economically efficient way; a heart – so that we are focused on the real human consequences of our decisions; and most importantly, courage (“the nerve”).
The House today passed a one-year extension of various tax breaks as well as expanded unemployment benefits until November on a 215-204 vote. In a separate 245-171 vote it approved a patch to the Medicare “doc fix” through 2011. However, the Senate adjourned without considering the legislation, meaning that the unemployment benefits, doc fix and COBRA subsidies will expire while Congress is in recess. Marking the second time this year Congress has left town without extending these provisions.
Two massive spending bills that congressional leaders wanted to dispose of before hitting the road for Memorial Day have hit potholes as lawmakers grow more uneasy about deficit spending. However, proposals to assert some degree of fiscal responsibility have yet to leave the driveway.
CBO and JCT have released updated cost estimates of the most recent version of the American Jobs and Closing Tax Loopholes Act (H.R. 4213), a bill that is scheduled to be brought to the House floor tomorrow. The bill would cost about $190 billion over the 2010-2020 period, only 30% of which would be paid for (meaning the bill will increase the deficit by $134 billion).
Heavy Congressional Workload Before Break – Congress has a busy week ahead before it leaves town for next week’s Memorial Day recess. Lawmakers want to complete action on “extenders” legislation and a defense supplemental before leaving town.
Terminating the Extenders Debate
Little Resolve for Budget Resolution – Leaders in the House have yet to make a final decision on moving forward with a FY2011 budget resolution. But every day that goes by makes it less likely Congress will adopt a budget blueprint this year. House Democrats are split between moderates who want cuts in discretionary non-security spending along with longer-term deficit reduction targets and others who fear social program cuts and think defense spending should also be subject to limits.
From Sophisticated to Sophocles – The untangling of the complex web of financial manipulation and deceit arising from the “hidden debts” controversy in Greece has exposed the mythology of its finances and is now playing out like something written by the ancient playwright, Sophocles. As the Greek economy becomes the latest tragic tale to emerge from that country, many are wondering if the woe will spread elsewhere and what lessons the U.S. can learn from the drama.
Super Saver Cashes In – Those who couldn’t resist the irony of betting it all on a horse named Super Saver were rewarded handsomely on Saturday as the colt crossed the finish line first at the Kentucky Derby. Maybe the folks on Capitol Hill will see the victory as a sign that fiscal responsibility can be a winning strategy.