House of Representatives
Yesterday, Rep. Dennis A. Ross (R-FL) introduced H.R. 243, otherwise cited as the Bowles-Simpson Plan of Lowering America's Debt (BOLD) Act, a bill that contains some policies found in the Simpson-Bowles plan. The BOLD Act includes some spending cuts -- such as reducing Congressional and White House expenditures by 15%, prohibiting earmarks, reducing federal travel, and imposing an additional 3-year pay freeze on federal workers and DOD civilians -- that could be undertaken to reduce the debt.
In a bipartisan op-ed in the Chicago Tribune, Reps. Robert Dold (R-IL) and Daniel Lupinski (D-IL) endorse a two-part process that avoids the fiscal cliff and sets up a process for Congress to enact a fiscal plan next year.
President Obama met with Congressional leaders last Friday to begin working toward a deal to avoid the fiscal cliff. Reportedly, the talks had an optimistic tone, and leaders seem to be willing to reconcile their differences in the coming months. However, this was not the only development that took place at the end of last week.
On Friday, President Obama spoke on the need to replace the "fiscal cliff" with a comprehensive plan to address the nation's unsustainable fiscal path. Most importantly, President Obama announced that the White House would invite leaders from both parties, business groups, labor and civic groups from across the country for a meeting this week to begin working toward a compromise.
The United States Conference of Mayors has written a letter signed by 149 mayors across the country, a bipartisan collection including the likes of Philadelphia Mayor Michael Nutter, New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg, and Sacramento Mayor Kevin Johnson. The letter urges Congress to replace the sequester with a bipartisan, comprehensive deal that gradually stabilizes debt and puts it on a downward path as a share of the economy.
Yesterday, the House Ways and Means Committee and the Senate Finance Committee held a joint hearing on tax reform and the tax treatment of capital gains. Base broadening tax reform with the payoff of lower rates is one of the key components of both the Simpson-Bowles and Domenici-Rivlin plans. But in order to get the lower rates in a fiscally responsible way, everything must be on the table, and that includes capital gains.
There has been much discussion over the "Ryan Plan" since the House Budget Chairman was selected by Governor Romney to be his running-mate. However, there is not just one Ryan plan, but multiple iterations of the Congressman's proposals. They have evolved over time on specifics, although the overall approach has remained clear.
The Council on Foreign Relations has joined in on those warning of the dangers of the fiscal cliff due to hit early January and unsustainable rising levels of debt. The helpful "backgrounder" piece explains both the domestic, national security, and economic consequences of the cliff as well as some context to how we got to this point.