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  • Issue Brief posted July 10, 2014 by David Inserra, Romina Boccia Crisis at the Border: Throwing Money at the Problem Is Not the Solution

    President Obama has just made public the details of his $4.3 billion emergency request, including $3.7 billion in additional emergency funding to deal with the immigration crisis on the southwest border. While the federal government does need to take action to better protect U.S. borders and enforce immigration laws, throwing money at the problem is not the solution,…

  • Issue Brief posted July 2, 2014 by Romina Boccia The IMF Is Following the Obama Administration’s Playbook on the Federal Budget

    The International Monetary Fund’s report on its 2014 Article IV Consultation with the United States risks encouraging inaction by U.S. lawmakers on adopting structural entitlement reforms to control U.S. spending and debt growth. The IMF report suggests institutional budget reforms to “lessen fiscal policy uncertainty,” citing “recent experience of debt ceiling…

  • Backgrounder posted June 10, 2014 by Romina Boccia How Congress Can Improve Government Programs and Save Taxpayer Dollars

    The current budget process provides Congress with few incentives for eliminating programs that do not work and waste taxpayer resources. Moreover, the federal government suffers from duplicative and overlapping programs, which would benefit from consolidation to better achieve their objectives at lower cost to taxpayers. The Defense Department’s Base Closure and…

  • Special Report posted June 6, 2014 by Alberto Alesina, Ph.D., Romina Boccia, Ryan Bourne, Salim Furth, Ph.D., David Howden, Ph.D., Filip Jolevski, Miguel Marin, Matthew Melchiorre, Derrick Morgan, Dalibor Rohac, Veronique de Rugy Europe’s Fiscal Crisis Revealed: An In-Depth Analysis of Spending, Austerity, and Growth

    About the Authors Alberto Alesina, PhD, is Nathaniel Ropes Professor of Political Economy at Harvard University. He is also a member of the National Bureau of Economic Research, the Center for Economic Policy Research, the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, and the Econometric Society. Romina Boccia is Grover M. Hermann Fellow in Federal Budgetary Affairs in the…

  • Backgrounder posted April 28, 2014 by Romina Boccia How Social Security Works in 2014

    Social Security touches the life of almost every worker in America, yet few know how the program works. In practice, Social Security uses complex benefit formulas and detailed rules that make it difficult for people to understand the program’s scope, its financing, how benefits are determined, and a number of other issues. This Backgrounder[1] explains what Social…

  • Issue Brief posted April 1, 2014 by Romina Boccia, Michael Sargent The Federal Budget in 2013: Dysfunction Revisited

    The federal fiscal year begins on October 1 and ends on September 30. The budget process calls for presidential, House, and Senate budgets, with the latter two to be resolved in a budget conference to arrive at the discretionary topline level from which the 12 appropriations bills are written. This process completely collapsed in 2013. By September 2013, Congress was…

  • Backgrounder posted March 16, 2014 by Romina Boccia Revealing Fannie Mae’s and Freddie Mac’s Budget Costs: A Step Toward GSE Elimination

    The current budgetary treatment of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac as off-budget federal entities, meaning that they are excluded from budgeting rules and processes, creates deficit reduction in appearance only with several ill effects. The current cash-flow approach used to report the impact of government-sponsored enterprises (GSEs) on federal finances fails to account…

  • Issue Brief posted February 14, 2014 by Romina Boccia Blank Check: What It Means to Suspend the Debt Limit

    Some commentators have criticized use of the phrase “blank check” to describe the recent vote to suspend the debt limit for more than a year. They argue that the debt limit suspension merely means that the Treasury is allowed to borrow for the purpose of covering spending Congress already approved. That is only part of the story. Here is why the “blank check” analogy…

  • Commentary posted February 7, 2014 by Romina Boccia Bring Back the Debt Ceiling

    Congress is in the process of abdicating its power to control the borrowing of the U.S. government, at a time when the national debt exceeds $17 trillion and continues growing unabated. It waived this power twice last year, “suspending” the debt limit and thereby granting the U.S. Treasury temporary blank-check borrowing authority. The latest suspension expires this…

  • Commentary posted January 15, 2014 by Romina Boccia Ten places to cut waste as Congress considers a budget

    Congress is considering an omnibus spending bill for fiscal year 2014, and it’s chock-full of inappropriate and wasteful spending. Lawmakers will have only a few days to read the mammoth bill before they are pressed to approve it. But this bill deserves close scrutiny. Just because Congress reached an agreement in December to exceed the 2014 sequestration spending caps…

  • Issue Brief posted January 3, 2014 by Romina Boccia 10 Programs to Eliminate in the January 2014 Spending Bill—and Save $10.2 Billion

    After reaching an agreement to spend nearly $45 billion more in 2014 than allowed under the sequestration spending caps, Congress still needs to pass the now over $1 trillion discretionary spending bill into law. As congressional appropriators are adding the final touches to the omnibus bill expected the week of January 6, they would be wise to eliminate any and all of…

  • Commentary posted December 15, 2013 by Romina Boccia Washington's Big Budget Bandaid

    The House is heading home for the holidays, and the Senate will soon follow, but not without first leaving behind a new spending tab for the American taxpayer. Many had hoped that the first budget conference in four years would produce a deal that would make substantive progress in reining in the government’s growing spending and debt problems. But the budget conference…

  • Backgrounder posted November 20, 2013 by Romina Boccia Cutting the U.S. Budget Would Help the Economy Grow

    Austerity is the result of countries’ democratic decisions to wait until the last minute before acting, under the pressure of the markets, mainly by raising taxes rather than implementing long-waited reforms. —Lorenzo Bini Smaghi, former member of the executive board of the European Central Bank.[1] Members of the Senate and the House of Representatives have convened the…

  • Issue Brief posted November 12, 2013 by Derrick Morgan, Rea S. Hederman, Jr., Nina Owcharenko, Romina Boccia Principles for the Budget Conference

    For the first time in years, lawmakers have agreed to convene in a budget conference to reconcile differences between their respective budget proposals, as presented by House Budget Committee chair Paul Ryan (R–WI) and Senate Budget Committee chair Patty Murray (D–WA). The two chambers’ budgets differ wildly in terms of taxes and the size of government. A budget…

  • Commentary posted November 6, 2013 by Romina Boccia The Sure Path to American Decline

    This fall, twenty-nine House and Senate members convene for the first budget conference in more than four years. Their charge is to develop—by December 13—a budget plan that will gain the support of a majority of lawmakers. It doesn’t sound too difficult. But there’s an elephant in the room few lawmakers are willing to acknowledge, let alone address. An agreement to go…