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…
Issue Brief posted November 12, 2013
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.
Backgrounder posted September 18, 2013
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.; 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…