In Bloom – Spring is officially here, though the weather would have one think otherwise. Frigid temperatures and even a little snow in the Washington, DC area early Sunday are indicative of how Washington often seems to resist the trends. Yet the inexorable change of seasons is upon us. The snow is already gone and the Cherry Blossoms are blooming. The Cherry Blossoms are a uniquely Washington tradition, drawing tourists by the thousands to experience their beauty and the promise of renewal that they represent.
There have been a number of pieces lately that have offered perspectives on how to view the recent debate surrounding the Social Security program. Is it part of the budget or not? What happened to the money in the Trust Fund? Does Social Security add to the deficit? Different authors frame the debate in different ways, but many have come to the same conclusion: Social Security needs to be reformed -- and quickly.
Meet Kate, a fictitious 41 year old Generation X member. How will our leaders’ fiscal choices affect her life? In our fifth and final installment of our “Meet the Generations” series, we look at Kate’s fiscal future, based on the two alternative futures scenarios from our recent paper “America’s Fiscal Choices at a Crossroad: the Human Side of the Fiscal Crisis”.
In light of the recent debates over Social Security, CRFB's latest paper attempts to clarify how the program relates to the federal budget and budget deficits. Some say that Social Security is a completely independent program and contributes nothing to the budget deficit, while others argue that it is in fact the largest government program and adds to overall deficits since it spends more than it takes in. So who's correct?
Once again, policy-watchers and policymakers are fired up over whether Social Security needs to be fixed anytime soon. Some resort to pretty arcane debates over the trust fund to make their point. Won't it take years to exhaust the trust fund? Are the bonds in the trust fund real? Is the trust fund a fiction? Was the trust fund raided? You know, it scarcely matters. All these debates are over a tiny sliver of the Social Security System—not over where the real action is.
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 their reaction to the President's FY 2012 budget proposal, the House Republican leadership has been very critical of the President's reluctance to use this opportunity to address the true drivers of our mounting debt -- the largest of which being entitlements. And now, Republicans have pledged to take up this daunting challenge.
Game On – The Super Bowl in Texas won’t be until Sunday, but Washington had its own big game last week as President Obama gave his State of the Union address.