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  • Commentary posted June 19, 2015 by Romina Boccia Our skyrocketing debt: Higher taxes, lower benefits loom

    Remember the national debt? It's been a while since members of Congress have warned us about it and talk of government shutdowns dominated the headlines. So, problem solved? If only. Things have been quiet on the fiscal front simply because Congress suspended the debt limit in February 2014 and the day of reckoning has yet to come. So, as with other unpleasant facts of…

  • Commentary posted June 8, 2015 by Salim Furth, Ph.D. 4 Ways Bad Economics Journalism Happens

    Science journalism recently took two huge hits, resulting in two major retractions. One article, which made national headlines upon initial publication, was revealed as an apparent fraud perpetrated by graduate student Mike LaCour. The other, a hoax and media experiment cooked up by John Bohannon, confirmed that even a sketchy result by a fictional professor in a…

  • Backgrounder posted March 26, 2015 by Romina Boccia, Michael Sargent $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.[1] 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. Obama’s…

  • Commentary posted February 27, 2015 by Romina Boccia After the cromnibus, how the new Congress can control spending

    It was a $1.1 trillion budget, yet spending concerns were little more than an afterthought for many senators voting on the "cromnibus." Most of the debate focused on including or eliminating certain policy changes addressed in the bill's "riders." Other budget reforms are necessary to control spending. At nearly 1,700 pages, the omnibus spending bill funds all government…

  • Backgrounder posted January 30, 2015 by Diem Nguyen Salmon 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.…

  • 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…