May 27, 2017

swinn's blog

‘Fiscal Summit’ Focuses on Debt, Need for Sustainability

Leading policymakers in both parties, business leaders and prominent experts on the federal budget generally agreed at a Washington policy forum Tuesday that the United States faces difficult fiscal challenges and should act soon to deal with them.

Trump Favors Tax Cuts Over Deficit Reduction

Earlier this year President Trump said he would like to have a balanced budget “eventually” but not at the expense of higher spending on the military.

Robert L. Bixby, executive director of The Concord Coalition, called Trump’s comment “troubling because it indicates that he does not feel constrained by the need to make trade-offs in pursuit of his policy goals. It is an invitation to pit any worthy initiative against the goal of a balanced budget regardless of the cost.”

A Timely Fiscal Warning

Lawmakers recently received a timely warning about the nation’s fiscal health from a particularly credible and persuasive source: Gene L. Dodaro, comptroller general of the United States and the head of the Government Accountability Office (GAO).

The warning came as administration officials continued to work on President Trump’s tardy proposed 2018 budget, and as lawmakers have been considering substantial tax cuts and fundamental changes in the health care system.  

Almost Forgotten: The 2018 Budget Process

Amid all the debate in Washington on health care, taxes and other things, the congressional budget process for the coming year is already behind schedule and seems to have almost been forgotten.

Congress has yet to even consider a Fiscal 2018 budget resolution, despite a statutory deadline of April 15 for having one in place. The congressional budget committees are still reportedly weeks away from even getting down to business on preparation of a resolution.

GAO Suggests Steps to Improve Government Efficiency

Attacking waste is no panacea for the federal government’s fiscal problems. Those problems are simply too large, and in any case there are often political differences over whether a particular project is a waste or an important public service.

But a recent report from the Government Accountability Office (GAO) is a reminder that there are still opportunities for significant savings and efficiency increases in many parts of the federal government.

Widespread Concerns About Fairness of Tax System

Many elected officials in both parties have long called for tax reform, although they often differ on what tax-related issues need to be addressed.

As President Trump and members of Congress consider tax proposals to pursue this year, a new national survey by the Pew Research Center may provide some useful information -- and perhaps a surprise or two -- on what taxpayers themselves think about the tax system.

Congress Must Act This Week to Avoid Partial Shutdown

Congress is again down to the wire on spending legislation for the current fiscal year, which is already half over. Returning to Washington after a 2-week recess, lawmakers need to take action before a stop-gap measure expires at midnight on Friday.

The alternative would be a shutdown for much of the government, wasting tax dollars and further diminishing public confidence in elected officials’ ability to take care of their fundamental budgetary responsibilities.

IRS Needs Adequate Funding to Explain, Enforce Complex Tax Code

IRS Commissioner John Koskinen warned recently that funding constraints and staff reductions at his agency could result in fewer people paying their taxes and the government running higher budget deficits.

CBO Discusses Risks of a Fiscal Crisis

Experts on the federal budget often warn that excessive federal debt could eventually lead to a fiscal crisis. But what would that actually involve, and how could Washington respond to such a crisis?

Halfway Through Fiscal 2017, Congress Still Figuring Out the Plan

Many Americans are no doubt struggling to understand some of the latest news from Washington about the federal budget. That’s because elected officials in Washington are approaching their work on the Fiscal 2018 budget with some long-unfinished business: They have yet to agree on most of their spending plans for the current fiscal year.