Happy Tax Day – Today is about the consequences of procrastination for the great many waiting until the last minute to file their federal income tax returns. It is also the time when the most consideration is given to the costs and benefits of the federal government.
Just in time for Tax Day on Monday, the White House website has launched a taxpayer receipt. By entering what one has paid in federal taxes, the new tool allows users to view where their tax dollars go, with results broken down by category.
The House and Senate today approved of legislation funding the federal government for the rest of the fiscal year, ratifying the agreement reached late last week that averted a government shutdown. For good measure, lawmakers flirted with one more deadline as the “bridge CR” that has been financing government operations since last Friday night’s last-minute deal was set to expire tomorrow.
Today, Senators Ron Wyden (D-OR) and Dan Coats (R-IN) introduced bipartisan legislation to comprehensively reform the existing U.S. tax system in a revenue-neutral manner. The "Bipartisan Tax Fairness and Simplification Act of 2011" fundamentally reforms the U.S.
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.