Backgrounder posted March 26, 2015
$4 Trillion and Counting: President Obama’s 2016 Budget Presents a Vision of Government Largess
For the first time since 2010, President Obama released his annual budget on time. Such punctuality is a welcome step toward normalcy in the budget process, though one wonders why it took five years for the Administration to adhere to the statutory deadline. Aside from its timeliness, there is little good that can be said about the President’s 2016 budget.
Backgrounder posted January 30, 2015
A Proposal for the FY 2016 Defense Budget
U.S. foreign and defense policy has reached a critical juncture. In an astonishingly brief period of time, the world—and America’s place in it—has changed dramatically. During this period, presidential elections, the financial crisis, and government shutdown politics largely supplanted overseas engagements and foreign affairs in the minds of the White House and Congress.…
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 October 9, 2013
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
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…
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…
Backgrounder posted September 3, 2013
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
Federal Spending by the Numbers, 2013: Government Spending Trends in Graphics, Tables, and Key Points
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…