Clay Masterpiece – Rafael Nadal and Roger Federer played yet another classic tennis match yesterday, with Nadal once again emerging victorious for his sixth French Open title. The distinctive red clay of Roland Garros produces slow-moving tennis characterized by long rallies and lots of spin on the ball.
Feeling the Heat – As most of us return to work this week nursing sunburns and swapping stories of grilling glory, the heat is on in Washington, at least on one side of Capitol Hill. Senators are out of town this week, but Representatives are working on appropriations. Meanwhile, the debt limit deadline continues to draw closer.
The Washington Post has a story today saying that ending retirement savings tax expenditures would save little money. The argument is a familiar one, and one that requires an understanding of how tax expenditures are scored.
Though recent discussion about "spending in the tax code" has brought fresh attention to tax expenditures, much of the discussion has been about how to deal with them comprehensively.
Donald Marron, director of the Tax Policy Center, has a good piece over at the Christian Science Monitor on how tax expenditures should be part of any deficit reduction plan and subject to the same scrutiny that direct spending is.
As Marron says:
What Will Bloom This Month? – In April we were showered with fiscal policy developments: namely, a last-minute FY 2011 budget deal; a deluge of budget plans from across the political spectrum (see here, here, here and here ); House passage of a FY 2012 budget resolution; a major fiscal policy speech from President Obama along with a new fiscal framework; and a steady stream of budget process ideas.
An op-ed in today's New York Times by Harvard economics professor Martin Feldstein says that while reducing our debt will require more revenue, that doesn't necessarily mean higher tax rates. Feldstein proposes the idea of capping the amount that tax expenditures as a whole can save an individual taxpayer to a maximum percentage of their income.
Wedding Vows and Vows Kept – Last week the royal wedding in England between William and Kate garnered a great deal of attention on this side of the pond. Meanwhile another union seemed to blossom in this country – the pairing of a debt limit increase with some type of trigger mechanism. Now, the word that Osama Bin Laden has been killed and buried at sea puts an end to the quest for the man most responsible for the 9/11 attacks and finally fulfills a promise to bring him to justice that spanned two administrations.
“Trigger” has become the term du jour in the budget world as of late, particularly as it relates to the debt limit, and it doesn’t refer to shooting ourselves in the foot. On the contrary, agreement on a debt or deficit trigger could be just the thing to help us come together on raising the statutory debt ceiling and avoid facing the firing squad.