August 31, 2016

Blogs

Three Signs of Fiscal Life in Washington

The overall budget picture in Washington remains bleak as lawmakers have left town without making any meaningful progress on the appropriations process. They are now anticipating a September scramble to approve a Continuing Resolution (CR) to keep the government open after the new fiscal year begins Oct. 1. This means Congress, yet again, would be falling back on legislation that indiscriminately maintains the funding levels of the previous year, with little or no attention to the necessity of increased or decreased funding levels for important programs. 

Lawmakers Forget Incentives Matter on Prescription Drugs

Health care cost-control efforts in the United States can often be described simply as “changing incentives.” The focus on incentives can be traced to two main circumstances:

1) The majority of politicians have opposed efforts to reduce costs simply through government price-setting, a mechanism widely used around the world to control costs.

Explaining Recently Proposed House Rule Change

A pair of Republicans on the House Rules Committee recently discussed proposals to alter the rules for the consideration of spending bills. The effort drew attention – and opposition – from Rules Committee Democrats and Appropriations Committee Republicans alike.

Fiscal Responsibility Does Not Require Eliminating the Debt

In an interview with Bob Woodward of the Washington Post, Republican presidential front-runner Donald Trump estimated last week that he could pay off the nation’s $19 trillion debt within eight years.

A Dent in Budget Gridlock

As Congress slides into April without any serious progress on a budget resolution in the House, some pragmatic lawmakers are reportedly considering the use of a novel approach to break the gridlock: a “Queen of the Hill” legislative rule.

Reality Check From the Congressional Budget Office

On the campaign trail, voters are hearing promises of big tax cuts from the Republican presidential candidates and of big spending increases from the Democrats.

Meanwhile, back in Washington last week, the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office (CBO) released a new set of projections for the next 10 years that casts serious doubt on how realistic (or responsible) those campaign promises are.

According to CBO's projections, here are some sobering fiscal facts that will confront the next president:

On Fiscal Promises, Trump Sounds Like a Typical Politician

Donald Trump is often described as an “unconventional” candidate. When it comes to the federal budget, however, his campaign promises are entirely too conventional.

Some candidates deny the necessity of reforming popular entitlement programs such as Medicare and Social Security.

Some candidates propose enormous tax cuts without credible proposals to cut enough spending to prevent this from worsening the debt.

Rigell Bill Offers Major Long-Term Fiscal Reform

Rep. Scott Rigell (R-Va.) recently offered the America First Act, a bill to replace 75 percent of the sequester cuts scheduled under current law with a mix of reforms in mandatory spending and revenue increases from limiting tax expenditures.

We Can’t Turn Back on Obamacare’s Turning Point

There has recently been a renewed focus on a key provision in the Affordable Care Act (ACA) -- the so-called “Cadillac tax.” The tax, which will take effect in 2018, attempts to limit the tax-free treatment of employer-provided health insurance benefits by taxing them above a certain amount.

House Ways & Means Approves Misnamed ‘Default Prevention’ Bill

The House Ways and Means Committee approved a measure last week that would allow the Treasury to continue issuing new debt to pay interest on the publicly held debt and Social Security benefits even if the statutory debt limit has been reached.