How Deep Will Congress Dig?

Our partners at Fix the Debt released a graphic highlighting the fiscal irresponsibility of the 114th Congress in the few months it has been in session so far. On top of the $7.2 trillion in deficits the federal government was already expected to run over the next ten years, they have already added $180 billion more to debt by 2025 through Homeland Security funding, the physician payment law that we have written extensively about, and additional interest costs. 

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Fiscal Speed Bumps: Congress's Foot is on the Gas Pedal

 Congress sped through this year's second and third "Fiscal Speed Bumps" in March, ignoring the return of the statutory debt limit and hurrying through a fiscally irresponsible, though permanent, solution to the expiration of the Medicare "doc fix." We've updated our Speed Bumps graphic, below, showing lawmakers barreling full speed to the end of May when the Highway Trust Fund will run out of money.

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The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly of the Budget Conference

With the budget conference complete, it is now up to each chamber of Congress to pass the FY 2016 concurrent budget resolution. We've already written about the House and Senate budgets in detail, and the final budget resolution aims to find compromise between the two. On our blog, we take a more detailed look at the good, the bad, and the ugly of the final product.

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Tax Day 2015: Charts to Explain Our Tax System

In honor of tax day, CRFB and our partners at Fix the Debt released a Tax Day 2015 chartbook, with ten charts (and one table) that explain federal taxes – who pays them, what they pay for, and how they are collected.

See the Charts »

CRFB's Blog: The Bottom Line

The appropriations process is in full swing on Capitol Hill. The budget conference agreement laying out the topline spending levels, known as 302(a) allocations, passed the House last week by a vote of 226-197, and is expected to pass the Senate this week. As we noted, the House has already moved to floor consideration of some bills, while the Senate is holding subcommittee hearings. As we did last year, we'll be tracking the bills as they move from committee to the House and Senate floor, and on to the President's desk.

The table below shows the status of each appropriations bill. To learn more about the appropriations process, read our report: Appropriations 101.

Yesterday, we discussed The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly of the Budget Conference, showing how the budget conference agreement was a mixed bag when it came to important procedural and policy issues. This blog takes a step back to look at the overall savings the budget intends to produce and how it compares to the original House and Senate budgets.

April 30, 2015
Congress Should Not Use OCO as a Slush Fund

One of the most troubling elements of the budget conference agreement was the use of the Overseas Contingency Operations (OCO) account as a slush fund to circumvent the spending limits under the Budget Control Act (BCA). Specifically, the budget conference report allocated $96 billion in spending for OCO in FY 2016, $38 billion more than the President’s request, with the expectation that the additional spending would be used to increase funding for the base Department of Defense (DoD) budget above the limits under the BCA (it also provided funding above the President's budget for 2017-2021 for the same purpose). This strategy will face its first test today when the House of Representatives votes on a series of amendments by Representative Mick Mulvaney (R-SC) and Budget Committee Ranking Member Chris Van Hollen (D-MD) striking OCO funding in the appropriations bill for Military Construction and Veterans Affairs (MilCon/VA).

With the budget conference complete, it is now up to each chamber of Congress to pass the FY2016 concurrent budget resolution. We've already written about the House and Senate budgets in detail, and the final budget resolution aims to find compromise between the two.

As CRFB President Maya MacGuineas said in a press release today:

Congress should be commended for actually having a budget this year and for proposing to put the debt on a sharp downward path relative to the economy. Unfortunately, the budget fails to give lawmakers the tools to accomplish this important goal, and in some areas actually facilitates higher deficits

Below we take a more detailed look at the good, the bad, and the ugly of the final product.

 
June 4, 2013
CRFB's latest interactive tool "The Reformer" is a handy game that allows users to design their own Social Security plan. Users can select from a wide variety of benefit and revenue changes to make the system sustainably solvent. The tool then shows the effect on the program's finances and benefit and tax levels.
September 27, 2011
If you've ever wanted to design your own corporate tax reform, now you can with our new Interactive Tax Reform Calculator. There is no question that the U.S. corporate tax system is badly in need of reform, and leaders in both parties have been pursuing this goal.

CRFB Projects

The McCrery-Pomeroy SSDI Solutions Initiative is dedicated to identifying practical improvements to the Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) program. The SSDI Solutions Initiative is calling for academic papers on innovative ways to make the SSDI program better serve workers with disabilities, those who pay into the program, and the economy as a whole.

The Campaign to Fix the Debt is an unprecedented and bipartisan coalition that seeks to mobilize members of business, government, and policy communities to urge Congress and the President to enact a comprehensive debt deal.

The Moment of Truth (MOT) project is a non-profit, non-partisan effort that seeks to foster honest discussion about the nation’s fiscal challenges, the difficult choices that must be made to solve them, and the potential for bipartisan compromise that can move the debate forward and set our country on a sustainable path.