Peterson-Pew Budget Reform Commission
As Policymakers Search for the Right Fiscal Tool, Peterson-Pew Commission’s New Fiscal Toolbox Can Help
In Getting Back in the Black, the Peterson-Pew Commission on Budget Reform calls on policymakers to reform the federal budget process in order to help stabilize the nation’s debt-GDP ratio, a proposal advanced in the Commission first report Red Ink Rising. The Commission concludes that policymakers must improve the budget process through implementing fiscal targets, budgetary triggers, and increased transparency as part of a package of fiscal reforms.
In Red Ink Rising: A Call to Action to Stem the Mounting Federal Debt, The Peterson-Pew Commission on Budget Reform calls on policy makers to stabilize the national debt through a six-step plan. Crafted over the past year by former heads of the CBO, OMB, GAO, and the congressional budget committees, the plan reflects a bipartisan approach to avoiding the tremendous global risks of America's expanding debt, without destabilizing the economic recovery. Red Ink Rising is the first of two major reports to be released by the commission.
In Red Ink Rising: A Call to Action to Stem the Mounting Federal Debt, The Peterson-Pew Commission on Budget Reform calls on policy makers to stabilize debt held by the public at 60 percent of GDP. Given our current fiscal path, reaching this debt goal will not be easy. While the Peterson-Pew Commission does not endorse specific tax and spending policies to meet this goal, Budget Blueprint: Paths to 60% aims to demonstrate the types and magnitude of necessary policy changes.
This paper examines the Obama administration budget reform proposals and evaluates how (and if) they would improve the budget process and restore fiscal responsibility. In particular, the paper examines the administration’s proposed changes to the calculation of the budget baseline and its reintroduction of a statutory pay-as-you-go (PAYGO) framework.
With the retirement of the baby boom generation drawing closer, concerns about the sustainability of current policies have become critical elements of the budget process. The seriousness of this problem should prompt us to reexamine the concepts and goals underpinning the budget process and find ways to focus budget decision-makers on the long-term implications of our current policy paths. This paper reviews some of these challenges and recommends ways they might be addressed.
Are the rules of thumb and categories we have explicitly and implicitly established in our budget process for resource allocation appropriate and aligned with our overarching fiscal, programmatic, and political goals? Do they establish the right incentives? Or do they create distortions? This paper looks at the bias in favor of mandatory over discretionary spending, tax expenditures, and capital budgeting.
This paper reviews the classes of information included in the budget resolution. It then examines potential changes to the contents in an attempt to focus deliberations and debate on core budgetary and fiscal questions. This paper also includes a discussion of current practice and budget principles. A more detailed discussion of fiscal information is included in a separate paper.
This paper lays out a model for converting the concurrent budget resolution into a joint resolution. It includes a description of the model and a discussion of its key advantages and disadvantages. Particular attention is devoted to how it would impact budget enforcement, both in terms of how budget limits would be enforced and the processes used to implement, comply with, or modify the limits.