Today, President Obama signed the Improper Payment Elimination and Recovery Act, hoping to make a dent in wasteful spending. Improper payments are exactly like they sound: payments made to the wrong people, at the wrong time, or for the wrong reason. After they totaled a high of $110 billion in 2009, the Obama Administration decided to crack down hard on these payments.
Larry Summers, the Administration's top economist (and former CRFB board member), has an op-ed in the Financial Times today, looking at why the current debate in Congress muddies the fiscal waters.
Today, President Obama has announced his intention to nominate Jacob Lew, the current Deputy Secretary of State for Management and Resources, to replace Peter Orszag as Director of OMB. Lew was previously OMB director during the Clinton administration.
OMB and the President have just kicked off the 2nd annual SAVE Awards, a contest that allows federal employees to submit their ideas to save money for the taxpayers by making the federal government more efficient. Last year's winner was Nancy Fichtner, who suggested that the VA allow patients to take their medication with them upon discharge. OMB has also proposed the implementation of a few other ideas that didn't win, such as using electronic payroll statements.
The Obama Administration is looking at spending once again. A day after the White House announced a plan to encourage savings by executive agencies, it has announced a required review of all agency budgets. According to an OMB memo sent today, all agencies must submit cuts for FY 2012 that total at least 5% of their FY 2010 discretionary budget.
Larry Summers gave a very interesting and thoughtful talk in Washington recently (May 24).
But it was delivered in High Oracular Econospeak, so many people may never get it.
And reasonable people can come away with very different interpretations of Dr. Summers’ High Oracular Econospeak.
Last week, the President said “my first priority is to figure out how can we reduce wasteful spending so that, you know, we have a baseline of the core services that we need and the government should provide, and then we decide how do we pay for that. As opposed to figuring out how much money can we raise and then not have to make some tough choices on the spending side.”
Earlier this afternoon, President Obama signed the health care bill into law. Over the past year, CRFB has offered continuous commentary and opinions on health care reform and the need to address the immense role that rising health care costs will play in the growth of our country's debt (see all past health reform press releases and policy papers here, and all past blogs here). The Senate is expected to take up the reconciliation bill sometime this week.
Yesterday, the White House released its version of a health care reform bill to restart the debate on how to reform the country's health care system. The CBO has announced that it will not be able to provide a detailed cost estimate of the proposal this week, citing additional needed information and the complexity of the issues involved.