January 16, 2017

bbixby's blog

$20 Trillion and Counting

Any day now the total debt of the United States government will top $20 trillion.

That eye-catching number should prompt all of us to reflect on what the growing debt means for future generations (a lot) and whether our elected officials have a plan to deal with it (they don’t).

The most important thing to recognize about the $20 trillion debt is that its size in dollar terms is not as important as the fact that it is on an unsustainable track.

Trump's Budget Nominee Will Face Daunting Math

In selecting Rep. Mick Mulvaney (R-S.C.) as his budget director, President-elect Donald Trump has chosen a strong advocate of balanced budgets accomplished through deep spending cuts.

Some Republican Leaders Encourage Offsets for New Proposals

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) made headlines this week when he suggested that the

Republicans Are Sending Mixed Signals on Health Care

How the incoming Trump administration handles health care policy is perhaps the most consequential question hanging over the nation’s budgetary outlook.

That’s why policy analysts are scrambling to read the tea leaves on health care amid conflicting signals. Republicans seem to have one foot on the gas pedal and one foot on the brakes.

Debt Is a No-Show at First Debate

The first segment of the first presidential debate between Democrat Hillary Clinton and Republican Donald Trump was dedicated to achieving prosperity.

That provided an opportunity for the moderator to ask about -- and the candidates to talk about -- their respective plans for putting the nation’s projected debt on a sustainable path. It’s hard to see how prosperity can be achieved, or long maintained, with a debt that is projected to reach unsustainable levels.

Unfortunately, the subject was not discussed.

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.

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.

Time to Heed Warnings From Medicare and Social Security Trustees

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.”

Five Ways the New Democrat Coalition Can Pursue Its Fiscal Agenda

The New Democrat Coalition, a group of 46 House members who describe themselves as the "pro-growth, fiscally responsible wing of the Democratic Party,"