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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 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…

  • Commentary posted August 6, 2014 by Stephen Moore Don't Cry for Argentina—Cry for Us

    Thursday’s headline in the Los Angeles Times — “Argentina Defaults on International Debt” — spooked me, as it did investors. The stock market tanked on the news. All Americans should feel the same apprehension. Argentina has about $200 billion in debt including billions in restructured bonds that it still can’t make payments on. Now Argentina has to go hat in hand to…

  • 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 November 27, 2013 by Rich Tucker Driving Toward Failure

    Sen. Everett Dirksen probably never said the words "a billion here, a billion there, and pretty soon you're talking real money." But in today's Washington, a billion here and a billion there is indeed a mere rounding error on top of a $17 trillion debt. Consider the soon-to-be-completed bailout of automaker General Motors. The Wall Street Journal reports that the federal…

  • Issue Brief posted October 9, 2013 by Andrew Kloster The President’s Legal Authority at the Debt Limit

    Some time between the middle and the end of October, the federal government will reach a hard limit on the amount of debt it can issue, and its ability to finance governmental operations will be affected. Confusion about the debt limit abounds, and this Issue Brief will address some common questions. What Is the Debt Limit? The United States debt limit, or debt…

  • Issue Brief posted October 8, 2013 by Rich Tucker America’s Debt, Through the Eyes of the Founders

    The Founders of the United States wanted to establish a country that could endure for generations, and they understood that massive debt would endanger their project. They knew that managing public finances to force government to live within its means was the prudent thing to do. They understood that it would sometimes be necessary for the country to run a deficit—for…

  • 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…

  • Backgrounder posted September 3, 2013 by Nicolas Loris Advanced Energy Trust Fund: Tying a Good Idea to a Bad One

    Senator Lisa Murkowski (R–AK) recently released draft legislation outlining her idea of an Advanced Energy Trust Fund. The trust fund would create a new stream of revenue for the Secretary of Energy to spend on basic and applied research for new energy technologies—with funding coming predominately from oil and gas production on federal lands currently off-limits to…

  • Special Report posted August 20, 2013 by Romina Boccia, Alison Acosta Fraser, Emily Goff Federal Spending by the Numbers, 2013: Government Spending Trends in Graphics, Tables, and Key Points

    Introduction In 2013, federal spending approached $3.5 trillion and the deficit dropped to “only” $642 billion. Some are using this small improvement in the nation’s fiscal situation to avoid further budget tightening. But as the figures and graphics in this report show, this is the wrong conclusion to draw. Following four years of trillion-dollar deficits, the national…

  • Factsheet on August 14, 2013 Getting America’s Debt under Control

    Before Debt Limit Is Raised, Americans Deserve Spending Cuts and Path to Balance Washington is spending far more money than tax revenues cover, once again reaching the limit for how much debt it may borrow. The debt limit was reached on May 19, 2013, with an unprecedented $16.7 trillion in national debt—larger than the entire U.S. economy as measured in gross…

  • Commentary posted July 2, 2013 by Alison Acosta Fraser Five Reasons to Worry About US Debt

    To read the news, you’d think America’s fiscal problems are under control. After all, following four years of $1 trillion-plus deficits, this year’s will be “only” $642 billion. And Congress cut spending this year by letting the sequester happen. So rather than worry about the debt, some are using this “progress” as a reason to focus on jobs and the economy. But this…

  • Issue Brief posted June 18, 2013 by Alison Acosta Fraser, J.D. Foster, Ph.D. Soaring National Debt Remains a Grave Threat

    Federal government debt has nearly doubled since President Barack Obama took office and is projected to increase 50 percent over the next decade—and then rise rapidly thereafter—under existing policies.[1] As federal debt has soared, so have concerns about America’s future. Used properly, debt can safely finance private and government investment in productive capital to…

  • Backgrounder posted June 18, 2013 by J.D. Foster, Ph.D. The Many Real Dangers of Soaring National Debt

    Federal government debt has nearly doubled since President Barack Obama took office. Recent progress toward reducing the annual budget deficit is welcome, yet federal debt is still projected to increase 50 percent over the next decade—and then rise rapidly thereafter—under existing policies.[1] As federal debt has soared, so have concerns about America’s future. Used…