‘Line’ Items: Offsets and Coming to a Resolution on the Budget

Congress Extends Unemployment Benefits, Along With the Deficit – Last week Congress extended expanded unemployment benefits, COBRA subsidies, the Medicare “Doc fix” and several other provisions through the end of May without any offsets to the $18 billion cost with passage of the Continuing Extensions Act, HR 4851.

Weekend Editorial Roundup

Here are the highlights from this weekend’s editorials on fiscal and budget policy:

A Big VAT of Opposition in Congress

Yesterday the Senate voted overwhelmingly, 85-13, to approve a non-binding “sense of the Senate” resolution sponsored by Senator John McCain (R-AZ) that puts the body on record as opposed to a value-added tax (VAT).

The resolution states:

It is the sense of the Senate that the Value Added Tax is a massive tax increase that will cripple families on fixed income and only further push back America's economic recovery and the Senate opposes a Value Added Tax.

"Deficit Spending: Trouble on the Horizon?

Congress this week demonstrated once again that members aren’t yet willing to embrace the new era of fiscal responsibility that was supposed to start with enactment of the PAYGO law earlier this year. The House and Senate sent President Obama legislation that would extend for two months unemployment benefits and several other expired programs.  Those programs include COBRA health insurance premium subsidies for workers who have lost their jobs, the federal flood insurance program, and a Medicare fix that would delay cuts in payments to physicians.

Between the ‘Lines’: A Midweek Update

Up-Hill Battle for the Budget – Democratic leaders in Congress are floating the possibility that there will be no budget resolution this year, citing election year pressures. Congress will definitely miss tomorrow’s deadline for producing a budget blueprint. The Hill faces a full agenda, including financial regulatory reform and a Supreme Court nomination.

‘Line’ Items: Recess Over, Deadlines Loom

They’re Back – Congress returns from its spring recess this week. The Senate is back in session today and the first order of business is a cloture vote this afternoon on legislation to extend expanded unemployment benefits, COBRA subsidies and the Medicare “Doc fix” until May 5. Republicans are withholding support unless the cost is offset through cuts elsewhere.

Weekend Editorial Roundup

Here are the highlights from this weekend’s editorials on fiscal and budget policy:

The Wall Street Journal noted the lessons that the United States could learn from Greece and their debt crisis.  They noted how the US's debt held by the public was projected to reach 90% in ten years, close to the 113% level Greece is at now.  According to them, "Greece's signaling loud and clear that the spend-and-tax economic model has hit the wall."

Coburn, Baby, Burn

The Hill reports that Senator Tom Coburn (R-OK) has promised to block all future spending bills that are not fully “paid for.” He currently is leading a Republican effort in the Senate to deny a month-long extension of expanded unemployment benefits, health insurance subsidies for the unemployed and the Medicare “Doc fix” unless the $9 billion cost is fully offset.

‘Line’ Items: Hoops, Blossoms and Canaries

Health Care Makes it Through the Final Hoops – Congress completed work last week on the reconciliation package, which included fixes to the health care legislation that was previously enacted – ending a March of madness in Washington. The reconciliation bill bounced between the Senate and House to make a few minor changes.

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