Super Not So Duper – The word “super” has lost its luster lately. The failure of the Super Committee and the need for a super majority in the Senate to pass virtually anything have contributed to record-low approval ratings for Congress. Meanwhile, Super PACs are pouring unlimited funds into campaigns, resulting in even more negative advertising than usual and rising concerns that the political process is being distorted.
Finding a way to extend the payroll tax cut, along with the many other expiring provisions this year, continues to be a dominating issue for Congress as 2011 comes to an end this month. A bipartisan proposal that includes a one-year extension of the tax cut was introduced yesterday by Sen. Susan Collins (R-ME) and Sen. Claire McCaskill (D-MO).
Today, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) unveiled another proposal for how to both extend and expand the payroll tax cuts and pay for them, building on the two proposals last week from Senate Republicans and Senate Democrats who both called for paying for any payroll tax cuts, albeit with different offsets. Both of those proposals were voted down in the Senate, so Reid's latest bill is an attempt at compromise.
News flash: Congress has a huge checklist to take care of. Many expiring tax provisions need to be dealt with, along with other temporary policies and the FY 2012 budget.
Doesn't this sound a lot like last year? Back in 2010, lawmakers had to deal with the 2001/2003 tax cuts, the doc fix, the AMT patch, unemployment insurance, tax "extenders", and FY 2011 appropriations -- in addition to a whole host of other non-budget-related issues -- in December.
Today, Senators Mark Kirk (R-IL) and Joe Manchin (D-WV) called for a "Sense of the Senate" resolution pushing for Congress to "Go Big" on deficit reduction using the framework of the Simpson-Bowles proposal. The resolution is a non-binding agreement that a "Go Big" approach needs to be taken towards deficit reduction.
According to The Hill, Senate Minority leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) has signaled to Senate colleagues that he would be willing to support a $4 trillion plan. That sounds like a call for “Go Big” to us! This is a favorable change, given that earlier this week it was reported that he had favored a smaller $1.2 trillion package in savings.
CRFB President Maya MacGuineas and former CBO director and current CRFB board member Douglas Holtz-Eakin will be testifying in front the Senate Special Committee on Aging at a hearing entitled "A Time for Solutions: Finding Consensus in the Medicare Reform Debate."
Budget process reform is back in vogue. Coming on the heels of yesterday’s hearings about budget process in both the House and Senate, Senators Jeff Sessions (R-AL) and Olympia Snowe (R-ME) have introduced a bill that would reform pieces of the budget process to avoid certain gimmicks and make other improvements. Their "Honest Budget Act" would,