Issue Brief posted July 28, 2014
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
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
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
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
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
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 explains what Social…
Issue Brief posted April 1, 2014
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
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
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…
Issue Brief posted January 3, 2014
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…
Backgrounder posted November 20, 2013
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.
Members of the Senate and the House of Representatives have convened the…