If the current budget drama in Washington ever becomes the stuff of a feature film--yes, a real stretch, but we've seen worse from Hollywood--maybe it could be a buddy film. Senators Tom Coburn (R-OK) and Dick Durbin (D-IL) could be cast as the main protagonists--unlikely partners thrust into a difficult quest.
Today, a bipartisan group of 64 Senators sent a letter to President Obama urging him to show leadership on reducing the federal deficit and to take a broader approach in addressing our nation's fiscal problems.
Yesterday, a group of 23 Republican Senators sent a letter to President Obama stating that any further increases in the debt limit should be accompanied by action on reducing the deficit, citing the need to embrace entitlement reform to protect current and future generations. They stated that "without action to begin addressing the deficit, it will be difficult, if not impossible, for us to support a further increase in the debt limit." (See below for a full copy of the letter.)
Everyone can recognize that the budget process is broken, but unfortunately not much has been done so far to fix it. Work such as the Peterson-Pew Commission's report, Getting Back in the Black, offers some great solutions for moving forward. It seems that policymakers may finally be waking up to these ideas. Today we will see two interesting developments that may help build momentum for budget process reform in the near future.
Brackets – As many busy themselves today going over the brackets for the big tourney, picking the next Cinderella and who will win it all, the real challenge for prognosticators remains predicting how the budget impasse will pan out. The budget process has gotten uglier than the 68 team bracket and all the moving parts – FY 2011 spending, the FY 2012 budget and the debt limit – make the road to Houston look like an easy jaunt.
Updated: Representative Jan Schakowsky (D-IL), formerly of the President's Fiscal Commission, has introduced similar legislation in the House.
It was the best of times, it was the worst of times? Let's just go with the worst of times.
Two important events are lined up for today. First, the Senate Budget Committee will hear testimony from Erskine Bowles and Senator Alan Simpson, co-chairs of the President's Fiscal Commission.
Lots of Stopgaps, Little in Closing the Fiscal Gap – Washington averted a government shutdown last week by agreeing on a two-week continuing resolution (CR) that cuts $4 billion in spending. This is the fifth stopgap measure funding the federal government since the 2011 fiscal year began on October 1, 2010. The posturing and procrastination so far have resulted in little in the way of reducing our mounting national debt.
In a vote of 91 to 9, the Senate has passed the House-crafted two-week continuing resolution (CR) to keep government doors open. Yesterday, this bill -- which will cut $4 billion in the next two weeks -- passed the House to set up this Senate vote. Congress was under pressure to reach an agreement before the current CR expires this Friday.