Not Much Worth Remembering – As September closes this week, it is clear that lawmakers already have one foot out the door; anxious to return home to campaign in an election season unlike any other. The only accomplishment that Congress can point to this month is the passage of a small business package that had been stalled for months. The one item remaining for legislators is a must-pass continuing resolution to fund government when the new fiscal year begins.
Today the Republican caucus of the House of Representatives released an agenda-setting document as a part of its strategy to take control of the House in November. The “Pledge to America” covers five broad topics: jobs and the economy; reducing federal spending and the size of government; repealing and replacing the health care reform law; congressional reform; and homeland and national security.
The Center for American Progress released a paper yesterday titled "A Thousand Cuts." The paper aims to show how deep policymakers would have to cut spending to reduce the deficit to primary balance in 2015--the equivalent of finding about $255 billion in savings in the year 2015.
With Congress back in session, the mid-term election right around the corner, and a looming expiration, the debate of the 2001-2003 tax cuts is getting hotter and hotter. Up until now, the debate over the tax cuts, which are set to expire at the end of the year, has mainly centered on whether or not to extend all of them or let them expire for the highest income earners. We believe that this type of debate is missing a key component: each plan’s specific and relative deficit impact.
Falling Into Pieces – Fall officially begins this week. A short congressional calendar and the quickly-approaching elections mean that the legislative agenda will largely fall by the wayside. Only a few bills will get passed this month, with a post-election lame duck session set to rake up with the rest.
Kick-off Time – Football season got underway this weekend, and the final legislative drive before the mid-term elections also commences this week. The elections will loom over the work of lawmakers as they return to work for a short period before adjourning in October, making major breakthroughs unlikely. But stranger things have happened (like the Redskins winning).
A small controversy has been brewing in the blogosphere over the relative value of the higher-income 2001/2003 tax cuts and the Social Security shortfall. A couple of weeks ago, the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities displayed this graph, showing the present value of the two being roughly equal:
The Tax Policy Center recently unveiled their new “Tax Calculator,” which examines how the decisions regarding the 2001/2003 tax cuts will affect people’s tax payments.
An interesting exchange was recently published on progressive ways to think about deficit reduction, especially when it comes to the “big three entitlement programs”. Isabel Sawhill and Greg Anrig debated on how to go about medium- and long-term debt reduction in a manner that would be amenable to many progressives.