After the Bunny – Easter has come and gone. Chocolate-induced comas are being overcome and many -- though not Congress -- return this week from spring break. Are there still hidden Easter eggs waiting to be found? The debt ceiling and negotiations over a debt reduction deal will continue to be top items of interest.
Happy Tax Day – Today is about the consequences of procrastination for the great many waiting until the last minute to file their federal income tax returns. It is also the time when the most consideration is given to the costs and benefits of the federal government.
Deal on FY 2011 Spending Reached – A government shutdown was averted on Friday by an 11th hour agreement on federal spending for the rest of the fiscal year. The deal will cap 2011 appropriations at just under $1.050 trillion, reducing spending by about $38 billion from current levels. Congress passed a one week extension shortly after the deal was announced to allow time for the agreement to be drafted into legislation and enacted. The House is scheduled vote on the legislation enacting the budget agreement on Wednesday, with the Senate likely voting afterwards.
Cleaning out the House – Spring is often associated with housecleaning. Congress is long due to clear out the FY 2011 budget seeing as we are now half way through the fiscal year. This week may be the week, with a deadline looming on Friday and both sides reportedly close on a deal. The continuing resolution funding the federal government expires on April 8 and many lawmakers have indicated they are unwilling to approve of more stopgap measures.
In Bloom – Spring is officially here, though the weather would have one think otherwise. Frigid temperatures and even a little snow in the Washington, DC area early Sunday are indicative of how Washington often seems to resist the trends. Yet the inexorable change of seasons is upon us. The snow is already gone and the Cherry Blossoms are blooming. The Cherry Blossoms are a uniquely Washington tradition, drawing tourists by the thousands to experience their beauty and the promise of renewal that they represent.
Madness in Washington – The down-to-the-wire finishes, Hail Marys and upsets in DC weren’t confined to the Verizon Center. Capitol Hill is experiencing its own madness. On Friday President Obama signed the sixth continuing resolution (CR) to keep the federal government operating just as the previous stopgap measure was about to expire. With the clock now reset to April 8, will the two sides change their strategy of lobbing shots from half court and mix it up in the paint to score an agreement on funding the government for the rest of the year?
Brackets – As many busy themselves today going over the brackets for the big tourney, picking the next Cinderella and who will win it all, the real challenge for prognosticators remains predicting how the budget impasse will pan out. The budget process has gotten uglier than the 68 team bracket and all the moving parts – FY 2011 spending, the FY 2012 budget and the debt limit – make the road to Houston look like an easy jaunt.
Lots of Stopgaps, Little in Closing the Fiscal Gap – Washington averted a government shutdown last week by agreeing on a two-week continuing resolution (CR) that cuts $4 billion in spending. This is the fifth stopgap measure funding the federal government since the 2011 fiscal year began on October 1, 2010. The posturing and procrastination so far have resulted in little in the way of reducing our mounting national debt.
Shutting Down Versus Sitting Down – Congress returns to Washington this week after lawmakers spent last week back home. Just before leaving town the House of Representatives passed legislation funding the federal government for the rest of this fiscal year that slashes spending by about $60 billion compared to current levels.
Day of Leaders – Today we celebrate great American leaders with mattress sales and a day off (for some) from work. Congress left town for the whole week. We at the Bottom Line honor the day by calling for the type of leadership embodied by the likes of Washington and Lincoln in dealing with our fiscal challenges. Last week both the White House and Capitol Hill put forth proposals that have much to be desired, meanwhile a bipartisan group of senators is negotiating on the type of comprehensive solution that the nation needs.