Deck the Halls with Bills of Folly – On Friday President Obama signed the $858 billion tax cut package that Congress passed earlier in the week, deeming it a great bipartisan achievement. The great “compromise” greatly compromises our fiscal outlook and makes it more imperative that fundamental tax reform and a comprehensive debt reduction plan be enacted next year.
Washington Drops the Ball – To many federal budget watchers, the tax cut debate has been more frustrating than watching the Redskins play. The expiring 2001/2003 tax cuts presented an opportunity not only to remake the tax code, but to transform the fiscal discussion in Washington.
Commission Can’t Quite Commit – The President’s Fiscal Commission was able to produce a fiscal plan last week that garnered a bipartisan majority of votes within the panel (11 out of 18 members), but not the 14 vote supermajority required to compel Congress to act. The question now is: will the Commission’s work go the way of many other commissions and be shelved, or can it still prompt action in Washington.
Washington Still Has a Full Plate -- Congress returns this week from its Thanksgiving break as fiscal issues will jolt policymakers from their turkey-induced comas. A Tuesday meeting between President Obama and congressional leaders may shed some light on how Congress will proceed on matters such as the 2001/2003 tax cuts and fiscal year 2011 spending bills. And Wednesday may bring a proposal from the White House fiscal commission that will drive debate over the direction of U.S. fiscal policy.
Talking Turkey – Congress takes a break this week for Thanksgiving. Lawmakers can be thankful for the brief respite, but the time is quickly coming when they can no longer speak in sound bites and generalities on fiscal matters and must get down to business. When they return next week they will have to face up to some deadlines, promises, and reality.
Roast (Lame) Duck is Served – The lame duck session of Congress begins today, but it is already being panned as unlikely to be very productive. As we previously noted, lawmakers face a sizable (and expensive) laundry list. With no indication that bipartisan cooperation on any of the items is likely, legislators may simply punt them to the next Congress. A meeting Wednesday between congressional leaders and President Obama will provide a signal on what can be accomplished during the session.
After the Voting – In case you were sleeping, there was an election last week. As a result of the mid-terms, Republicans will control the U.S. House of Representatives when the 112th Congress convenes in January. With the heat of the campaign now subsiding, attention is turning to agenda setting. Many candidates who successfully ran on cutting the federal budget deficit while also creating more jobs will have to offer concrete proposals to accomplish these goals.
Tricks and Treats Not Done Yet – Halloween was celebrated last night and Election Day is tomorrow. Which day is scarier likely depends on your political view, but Tuesday will be filled with plenty of tricks and treats for political junkies. The election results will significantly influence the fiscal policy agenda.
Surprises We Want to See – With pivotal mid-term elections next week that will decide control of Congress, observers are awaiting this year’s “October surprise” – the breaking news that could change the course of the election. We at The Bottom Line have our own ideas for surprises we would like to see.
Loads of BCS – The first edition of this season’s rankings from the much-maligned BCS is now out. The system uses computer algorithms and polls to determine which two teams will ultimately face off for the college football championship. So, we at The Bottom Line fired up our supercomputers to rank some of the recent developments regarding the political football of fiscal policy.