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  • Special Report posted December 8, 2014 by Romina Boccia Federal Spending by the Numbers, 2014: Government Spending Trends in Graphics, Tables, and Key Points (Including 51 Examples of Government Waste)

    Contributors Romina Boccia is Grover M. Hermann Fellow in Federal Budgetary Affairs in the Thomas A. Roe Institute for Economic Policy Studies, of the Institute for Economic Freedom and Opportunity, at The Heritage Foundation. John W. Fleming is Senior Data Graphics Editor at The Heritage Foundation. Spencer Woody is a member of the Young Leaders Program at The Heritage…

  • Commentary posted November 21, 2014 by Romina Boccia, Robert Rector Weakening an Asset Test Could Expand the Welfare State

    Before Congress recessed for the midterm elections, lawmakers announced plans to use the current lame-duck session to work on passing a bill called “The Achieving a Better Life Experience (ABLE) Act.” Supporters describe the bill as a way to eliminate “barriers to work and saving by preventing dollars saved through ABLE accounts from counting against an individual’s…

  • Issue Brief posted November 12, 2014 by Romina Boccia Lame Duck Threats Congress Should Avoid

    A‌ lame duck session refers to when one Congress ‌is in session after a new one has been elected. After last week’s election, Members of Congress who lost elections or are retiring are lame ducks, who are protected from the consequences of passing politically unpopular legislation. This lame duck session is particularly important because the Republicans will take control…

  • Backgrounder posted November 10, 2014 by Robert Rector, Romina Boccia How the ABLE Act Would Expand the Welfare State

    This summer, a 14-page bill with 379 co-sponsors (193 Republicans, 186 Democrats), which is little known outside the halls of Congress, was reported out of the House Ways and Means Committee.[1] The Achieving a Better Life Experience (ABLE) Act (H.R. 647) would establish tax-favored savings accounts, similar to “529” education savings accounts, for individuals with…

  • Issue Brief posted November 6, 2014 by Romina Boccia Triple-Dipping: Thousands of Veterans Receive More than $100,000 in Benefits Every Year

    A new report by the U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO) revealed that in 2013, nearly 60,000 disabled veterans received cash benefits from three different federal programs simultaneously.[1] More than 2,300 veterans received $100,000 or more in annual benefits each, and the highest annual benefit amounted to more than $200,000. Receiving concurrent benefits from…

  • Backgrounder posted October 17, 2014 by Romina Boccia Eliminating Waste and Controlling Government Spending

    If one asks Americans how many cents of every dollar that the federal government spends they believe is wasted, their answer reflects a belief that Washington is vastly incompetent when it comes to managing taxpayer money. A 2014 Gallup poll reported that Americans think the federal government wastes 51 cents of every dollar they pay in taxes.[1] This year’s figure is…

  • Commentary posted October 8, 2014 by Romina Boccia America, Don't Forget about the Deficit: 5 Ways to Control the Debt and Unleash Growth

    This week, the Treasury Department releases the actual deficit figure for fiscal year (FY) 2014 which ended on September 30. At about half a trillion dollars, this year’s deficit adds more than $4,000 to the per-household national-debt burden. What’s worse, the 2014 deficit marks a low point in the ten-year projection. The total deficit over the period is expected to ring…

  • Backgrounder posted August 4, 2014 by Rachel Greszler, Romina Boccia Social Security Trustees Report: Unfunded Liability Increased $1.1 Trillion and Projected Insolvency in 2033

    Social Security ran a $71 billion deficit in 2013, closing out four years of consecutive cash-flow deficits as the program’s unfunded obligations continue to grow.[1] According to the 2014 annual report from the programs’ trustees, the combined 75-year unfunded obligation of the Social Security and Disability Insurance Trust Funds (referred to collectively as the OASDI…

  • Issue Brief posted July 28, 2014 by Romina Boccia Congress Should Fund Wildfire Suppression Without Creating a New Spending Loophole

    As part of a request to authorize $615 million in emergency deficit spending for wildfire suppression and rehabilitation in 2014, President Obama also asked Congress to fund 30 percent of wildfire suppression costs by creating a new spending loophole in the 2011 Budget Control Act (BCA). Although Congress should appropriate sufficient funding for wildfire suppression,…

  • 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 Preface Chapter 1 Chapter 2 Chapter 3 Appendix: Country Profiles 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…

  • 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…