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  • 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…

  • Commentary posted November 2, 2013 by Romina Boccia Reform is needed to prevent old-age poverty

    Social Security would give “some measure of protection against poverty-ridden old age,” as President Franklin Roosevelt said in 1935 when the Social Security Act became law. Today’s program is very different. It leaves some eligible seniors in poverty, while providing benefits to more than 47,000 millionaires. Because the program operates on a pay-as-you-go basis,…

  • Commentary posted October 10, 2013 by Romina Boccia Obamacare, Debt and Disaster

    The federal government is in a partial shutdown for the first time in seventeen years. Meanwhile, the U.S. Treasury is quickly exhausting its ability to borrow money under the debt limit. The stakes are high, yet lawmakers are far from bringing the fiscal debates to a successful conclusion. Many important issues are feeding into this fall’s budget battles. But at the…

  • Play Movie A Gov't Shutdown and Defaulted Debt: Boccia on Fox Business Video Recorded on September 25, 2013 A Gov't Shutdown and Defaulted Debt: Boccia on Fox Business

    Economic Fellow Romina Boccia discusses the looming government shutdown and the U.S.'s defaulted debts on Fox Business' 'The Willis Report'.…

  • Commentary posted September 25, 2013 by Romina Boccia Breaking the ‘Groundhog Day’ debt-ceiling cycle

    Here's a suggestion for lawmakers battling over the debt ceiling: Take a moment to watch "Groundhog Day." The 1993 comedy holds some lessons that can help them escape Washington's vicious spending and debt cycle. In the movie, self-centered meteorologist Phil Connors awakens day after day to find it is always Groundhog Day — the very same Groundhog Day he hated the…

  • Backgrounder posted September 18, 2013 by Romina Boccia Debt Limit: Options and the Way Forward

    Congress cuts spending only when forced to act, but it should carefully consider its options on the debt limit. The federal government hit the statutory debt limit on May 19, 2013, with $16.7 trillion in debt.[1]; Two days earlier, Secretary of the Treasury Jack Lew sent a letter to Congress detailing $260 billion in extraordinary measures that the Department of the…