It has been easy for advocates of generationally responsible tax and spending policies to look at Capitol Hill with dismay for the past few years. A few consequences of inaction and lack of bipartisanship include:
A complete breakdown in the federal budget process.
Continued struggles to replace arbitrary, shortsighted caps on discretionary spending with smarter deficit reduction.
The message from the Social Security and Medicare trustees last week could not have been more blunt: the two programs’ long-term costs “are not sustainable with currently scheduled financing and will require legislative action to avoid disruptive consequences for beneficiaries and taxpayers.”
Last week the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) proposed a new method of paying for health care services, using its authority under the Affordable Care Act (ACA) to scale up payment reforms that have been shown to save money while maintaining the quality of care.
In a good example of history repeating itself, Congress for the second year in a row is going down to the wire on a mid-summer deadline to replenish the Highway Trust Fund before it runs out of money.
If lawmakers can’t find a solution by July 31, states will not receive promised funding from the federal government to help pay for transportation projects, bringing many such projects around the country to an abrupt halt.
Federal officials could take some lessons from the success that many state leaders have had in putting together responsible budgets, according to former elected officials and others at a recent panel discussion in Washington.
At a forum last week on Capitol Hill hosted by The Concord Coalition and the Bipartisan Policy Center (BPC), experts from across the political spectrum shared their thoughts about retirement security in America. While several different policy proposals were discussed, one area of broad consensus was that Social Security is a critical component of retirement security -- and that lawmakers must act to strengthen the program.
A hearing by the House Ways and Means Social Security subcommittee last week drew attention to the impending insolvency of the Disability Insurance (DI) trust fund in 2016. While there were some disagreements, there was also a clear bipartisan consensus that something must be done to shore up the finances of Social Security.
A looming crisis is facing Social Security’s Disability Insurance (DI) program: Unless Congress takes action, the DI trust fund will run out next year and beneficiaries will suffer an across-the-board cut of 19 percent.
Some advocates suggest that a “simple fix” would be for Congress to shore up the DI trust fund by reallocating a portion of Social Security’s payroll tax revenue from the Old Age and Survivors Insurance program (OASI). But this approach would ignore the fact that OASI has growing problems of its own.