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  • Issue Brief posted October 31, 2016 by Curtis S. Dubay Analyses of 2016 Candidates’ Tax Plans Demonstrate That Dynamic Scoring Is Now Mainstream

    In a significant victory for proponents of better tax policy, dynamic scoring has replaced static scoring as the preferred method for estimating the effect of changes in tax policy by tax policy experts across the ideological spectrum. The final step in this process was taken when the Tax Policy Center (TPC) dynamically scored the tax plans of presidential candidates…

  • Backgrounder posted September 14, 2016 by Walton J. Francis Postal Service Health Benefits and the FEHBP: The Urgent Case for Getting Reform Right

    The House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform recently considered the Postal Service Reform Act (H.R. 5714). The bill proposes shifting postal retirees’ primary health care coverage from the Federal Employees Health Benefits Program (FEHBP) to Medicare. Proponents call this a consensus proposal for integrating the FEHBP with Medicare. It is not. The proposal’s…

  • Issue Brief posted September 13, 2016 by Rachel Greszler Congress Needs to Address the PBGC’s Multiemployer Program Deficit Now

    The Pension Benefit Guaranty Corporation (PBGC) is a government entity that provides mandatory insurance to private pension plans. If a private pension plan fails, the PBGC pays out insured benefits so that pensioners are not left penniless.[1] The problem is, however, that the PBGC’s multiemployer program is itself insolvent and will likely run out of money to pay…

  • Backgrounder posted September 8, 2016 by Romina Boccia Improving Accuracy in Congressional Scorekeeping

    Congress should account for debt-service costs when considering the costs of proposed legislation. Current scorekeeping conventions fail to account for debt-service costs when Congress considers new legislation outside of major budget proposals. This leads to lawmakers having incomplete information concerning how a proposal will impact the U.S. budget. The practice…

  • Issue Brief posted September 7, 2016 by Michael Sargent WRDA: The Water Resources Development Act in the 114th Congress

    The federal government undertakes substantial activities constructing and maintaining national water resources and infrastructure through the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. These activities are primarily: maintaining navigable channels, reducing flood and storm damage, and restoring aquatic ecosystems. Corps activities are traditionally authorized every two years by…

  • Issue Brief posted June 28, 2016 by Curtis S. Dubay CBO Report on Distribution of Income and Taxes Shows Taxes Matter

    The Congressional Budget Office (CBO) has released its periodic report on the distribution of household income and federal taxes, extending the data series on these figures from 2012 to 2013.[1] This latest edition of the CBO report shows how the enactment of the American Taxpayer Relief Act of 2012 (ATRA) and its accompanying tax increases affected taxpayer bills and…

  • Issue Brief posted June 24, 2016 by Justin Bogie Time to End “Zombie” Appropriations

    A growing problem on Capitol Hill has been the expanding practice of Congress appropriating funds to so-called zombie programs, which are programs that have never been authorized or are operating under an expired authorization. Under House and Senate rules, an appropriation cannot be made for a purpose unless separate authorizing legislation has been passed into law.…

  • Issue Brief posted July 28, 2015 by Curtis S. Dubay The Senate Can Use Tax Extenders as an Opportunity to Improve the Tax Code

    The tax extenders are a group of approximately 50 tax-reducing policies that expire regularly. Congress has traditionally extended them just as regularly as they expire. Late last year, Congress retroactively renewed them for 2014, which means they are currently expired. The Senate Finance Committee marked up its version of this year’s tax extender bill recently. In that…

  • Issue Brief posted July 20, 2015 by John Gray The Appropriations Process: Spending Caps Explained

    Each year, Congress funds much of the general operations of the federal government with legislation known as appropriations bills. These appropriations bills provide discretionary budget authority (authority for the government to spend money) for a number of programs, including national defense, national parks, transportation, and homeland security, among others. These…

  • Posted on May 14, 2014 by Romina Boccia What the 2014 Deficit Tells and Doesn’t About the U.S. Budget Gap

    While the budget has received relatively little attention since February, one misleading headline has made the rounds:...…

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  • Commentary posted April 17, 2014 by Stephen Moore Who Shrank the Deficit?

    A budget deficit of nearly half a trillion dollars is hardly something to cheer about, but the big decline in federal red ink as a share of our national output has been a stunning achievement. The new April budget update from the Congressional Budget Office tells us that, in 2009, Barack Obama and the Democrats rang up an elephantine $1.3 trillion deficit, which amounted…

  • Commentary posted October 17, 2013 by Jim DeMint We Won't Back Down on ObamaCare

    Now that the government shutdown has ended and the president has preserved ObamaCare for the time being, it's worth explaining why my organization, the Heritage Foundation, and other conservatives chose this moment to fight—and why we will continue to fight. The reason is simple: to protect the American people from the harmful effects of this law. I spent a good part…

  • Backgrounder posted April 9, 2003 by Brian M. Riedl CBO Estimates: Spending Weakens the Effects of Pro-Growth Tax Relief

    The Congressional Budget Office (CBO) recently released an economic or dynamic score of President George W. Bush's proposed 2004 budget.1 The most important aspect of this Analysis of the President's Budgetary Proposals for Fiscal Year 2004 is simply its existence, as the CBO has long claimed that dynamic scoring would be impossible to implement.2 The two key…

  • WebMemo posted January 27, 2006 by Brian M. Riedl New CBO Baseline Substantially Understates Grim Budget Picture

    The Congressional Budget Office (CBO) projects a balanced budget by 2012. A number of CBO's assumptions underlying this projection are, to say the least, problematic. For example, CBO's projections assume that all of the President's 2001 and 2003 tax cuts, as well as all other temporary tax cuts, are allowed to expire and that the Alternative Minimum Tax is not fixed…

  • WebMemo posted November 15, 2010 by J.D. Foster, Ph.D. Eliminating Partisan Analysis from Congress’s Support Agencies

    The incoming Congress has its hands full. It should prevent a massive tax hike from shellacking a weak economy, get a spend-happy President to repent, try to repeal or defang Obamacare, get a handle on entitlement spending, and much more. The going will be much easier if new Members first redress some bad habits at its support agencies, especially the Congressional Budget…

  • WebMemo posted June 25, 2008 by J.D. Foster, Ph.D. AMT Patch Bill Disguises a Tax Hike, Again

    There they go again. The House of Representatives passed another huge tax increase. Earlier in the year they passed a big, economically harmful tax hike attached to a bill expanding veterans' benefits. This time, they married a big tax hike to a bill extending the Alternative Minimum Tax (AMT) patch for 2009.[1] They tried this tax hike ruse earlier in the year when…

  • Backgrounder posted February 16, 2012 by Curtis S. Dubay Tax Extenders and the AMT Patch: Time to Pull the Plug on Congress’s Annual Dance

    Abstract: A host of annual tax-reducing provisions expired on December 31, 2011. As it does each year, before restoring these policies, Congress is sure to argue about how to “pay for” extending these tax reducers, for some of which have been the law as long as 30 years. As the debate plays out, Congress should remember that continuing these tax policies—thus preventing…

  • Issue Brief posted September 28, 2012 by Rea S. Hederman, Jr. Why Medicare Premium Support Would Not Cost Future Beneficiaries $6,400 More

    Opponents of Medicare premium support routinely charge that it would cost future retirees $6,400 more annually. In fact, this dollar amount is incorrect, and the charge is erroneous. Such false charges are based on an outdated Congressional Budget Office (CBO) model of House Budget Committee chairman Paul Ryan’s (R–WI) 2011 budget proposal. Ryan’s 2012 proposal,…

  • Issue Brief posted June 10, 2013 by Derrick Morgan How to Read the CBO’s Scoring of the Immigration Bill

    Sometime in the next few weeks, the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) will produce a “score” of S. 744, the Border Security, Economic Opportunity, and Immigration Modernization Act (known colloquially as the “Gang of Eight bill”), as recently reported out of the Senate Judiciary Committee. During the last congressional debate over immigration reform in 2007, a CBO…

  • Issue Brief posted April 24, 2013 by Jason Richwine, Ph.D. The Unknown Cost of Federal Student Loans

    As Congress again considers preventing the interest rate on federal student loans from doubling, the cost to taxpayers should be a central issue. However, the federal government’s accounting practices systematically understate the cost of student loans by failing to account for market risk. A superior method called “fair value accounting,” which is the strong preference…

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  • Issue Brief posted October 31, 2016 by Curtis S. Dubay Analyses of 2016 Candidates’ Tax Plans Demonstrate That Dynamic Scoring Is Now Mainstream

    In a significant victory for proponents of better tax policy, dynamic scoring has replaced static scoring as the preferred method for estimating the effect of changes in tax policy by tax policy experts across the ideological spectrum. The final step in this process was taken when the Tax Policy Center (TPC) dynamically scored the tax plans of presidential candidates…

  • Backgrounder posted September 14, 2016 by Walton J. Francis Postal Service Health Benefits and the FEHBP: The Urgent Case for Getting Reform Right

    The House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform recently considered the Postal Service Reform Act (H.R. 5714). The bill proposes shifting postal retirees’ primary health care coverage from the Federal Employees Health Benefits Program (FEHBP) to Medicare. Proponents call this a consensus proposal for integrating the FEHBP with Medicare. It is not. The proposal’s…

  • Issue Brief posted September 13, 2016 by Rachel Greszler Congress Needs to Address the PBGC’s Multiemployer Program Deficit Now

    The Pension Benefit Guaranty Corporation (PBGC) is a government entity that provides mandatory insurance to private pension plans. If a private pension plan fails, the PBGC pays out insured benefits so that pensioners are not left penniless.[1] The problem is, however, that the PBGC’s multiemployer program is itself insolvent and will likely run out of money to pay…

  • Backgrounder posted September 8, 2016 by Romina Boccia Improving Accuracy in Congressional Scorekeeping

    Congress should account for debt-service costs when considering the costs of proposed legislation. Current scorekeeping conventions fail to account for debt-service costs when Congress considers new legislation outside of major budget proposals. This leads to lawmakers having incomplete information concerning how a proposal will impact the U.S. budget. The practice…

  • Issue Brief posted September 7, 2016 by Michael Sargent WRDA: The Water Resources Development Act in the 114th Congress

    The federal government undertakes substantial activities constructing and maintaining national water resources and infrastructure through the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. These activities are primarily: maintaining navigable channels, reducing flood and storm damage, and restoring aquatic ecosystems. Corps activities are traditionally authorized every two years by…

  • Issue Brief posted June 28, 2016 by Curtis S. Dubay CBO Report on Distribution of Income and Taxes Shows Taxes Matter

    The Congressional Budget Office (CBO) has released its periodic report on the distribution of household income and federal taxes, extending the data series on these figures from 2012 to 2013.[1] This latest edition of the CBO report shows how the enactment of the American Taxpayer Relief Act of 2012 (ATRA) and its accompanying tax increases affected taxpayer bills and…

  • Issue Brief posted June 24, 2016 by Justin Bogie Time to End “Zombie” Appropriations

    A growing problem on Capitol Hill has been the expanding practice of Congress appropriating funds to so-called zombie programs, which are programs that have never been authorized or are operating under an expired authorization. Under House and Senate rules, an appropriation cannot be made for a purpose unless separate authorizing legislation has been passed into law.…

  • Issue Brief posted July 28, 2015 by Curtis S. Dubay The Senate Can Use Tax Extenders as an Opportunity to Improve the Tax Code

    The tax extenders are a group of approximately 50 tax-reducing policies that expire regularly. Congress has traditionally extended them just as regularly as they expire. Late last year, Congress retroactively renewed them for 2014, which means they are currently expired. The Senate Finance Committee marked up its version of this year’s tax extender bill recently. In that…

  • Issue Brief posted July 20, 2015 by John Gray The Appropriations Process: Spending Caps Explained

    Each year, Congress funds much of the general operations of the federal government with legislation known as appropriations bills. These appropriations bills provide discretionary budget authority (authority for the government to spend money) for a number of programs, including national defense, national parks, transportation, and homeland security, among others. These…

  • Issue Brief posted August 13, 2013 by Salim Furth, Ph.D. CBO Should Measure Long-Term Obligations and Policy Impact

    Senators John Thune (R–SD) and Tim Kaine (D–VA) have introduced legislation to require the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) to conduct long-term fiscal scoring and annual measurement of the fiscal gap.[1] Their effort is timely. Today, the largest fiscal questions facing Congress concern policies that will determine the health of America’s finances decades in the…

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Find more work on Congressional Budget Office