Taxing Time – This week was initially about the federal tax filing deadline, but the tragedies in Boston and Texas have shifted attention away from taxes and Washington. Our thoughts are with all those affected. The events have pushed back the Hill agenda, as well as your trusty Line Items. Lawmakers face a full plate dealing with the aftermath of these incidents as well as immigration reform. Of course, fiscal issues continue to be on the agenda as well as policymakers have been unable to come to agreement on solutions.
Blossoms– It’s a special time in Washington as the Cherry Blossoms are finally blooming after a long winter. The city itself seemingly comes alive as the long dormant buds burst with color and tourists come from all over to view them. People are also coming to the Capitol as Congress resumes work after a two-week break. There too are blossoms as hopes for a budget deal intensify yet again. Will these buds bloom or will they wither?
It’s Back – The long wait finally ended on Sunday as the HBO hit series "Game of Thrones" debuted its third season, gratifying those who have longed for the intrigue, action and, ahem, certain other pleasures of the show. Congress returns next week, with plenty of intrigue, but lacking the other stuff. Immigration and gun control will be high on the agenda, but the federal budget and national debt will also continue to occupy center stage with the release of the President’s budget and more outreach to Congress to work towards a debt deal.
Bittersweet – The madness is here. The NCAA tournament field has been reduced to 16 teams, and after this weekend there will be only four remaining. While the budget field has been reduced to two, don’t expect a clean conclusion like the one we will see in Atlanta. In Washington, the brackets are broken before the action begins (for a really scary bracket, check this out).
Madness Returns – It’s that time of year again. Predictions are made and office pools are formed. Yes, budget wonks are pitting budget against budget to see which will prevail. And we hear there’s a basketball thing going on. Congress is trying to wrap up this week a spending plan for the rest of this year and a budget for next year ahead of a two-week Easter recess. Meanwhile, spring has begun and debate over how to address the national debt continues. Will a debt deal defy prognosticators and make a Cinderella run?
Big Week – The budget once again takes center stage this week. House Budget Committee Chair Paul Ryan (R-WI) released his fiscal year 2014 budget blueprint on Tuesday. His counterpart, Senate Budget Committee Chair Patty Murray (D-WA) will follow suit this week as well. Meanwhile, the Senate Appropriations Committee moved forward a spending plan for the rest of this fiscal year, and President Obama is making the rounds on Capitol Hill to drum up support for a grand bargain on the national debt.
After the Storm – Winter Storm Saturn moved through the Washington, DC area on Wednesday and was given the nickname "Snowquester" by the inside-the-beltway crowd, named after the budget sequester that kicked in last week. After much hype the storm brought little snow within the Washington city limits, causing many to compare the storm to its namesake as an over-hyped event with little impact. Yet, locations just an hour west of the DC Metropolitan area saw snow accumulation of a foot or more. Is it possible the sequester will have a similar impact?
Sequester Week – It’s all about sequestration this week as the March 1 deadline for the $85 billion in across-the-board cuts looms (read all about the sequester here). The deadline at the end of the week is the culmination of a chain of events begun a year and a half ago with the Budget Control Act (BCA).
Honoring Leaders – We celebrated President’s Day on Monday, the day we recognize those who have led this great nation. The House and Senate are honoring such leadership by taking the week off while a couple of key fiscal deadlines approach. While names like Washington and Lincoln often come to mind when thinking of presidents, we’ve had many other men occupy the office that we can learn something from, for better or for worse, even the ones we may not remember.
Happy New Year – The Chinese New Year was ushered in over the weekend and 2013 is the year of the Snake. According to at least one horoscope, “This 2013 year of Snake is meant for steady progress and attention to detail. Focus and discipline will be necessary for you to achieve what you set out to create." Those born in the year of the Snake are said to approach problems rationally and logically and to be financially secure.