April 23, 2014

swinn's blog

Concord Forum Examined Fiscal, Economic Risks to U.S. From Eurozone Crisis

The severe fiscal, financial and economic difficulties in Europe underscore the need for Washington to develop credible plans for comprehensive, long-term fiscal reforms -- in part because spillover problems from Europe could well aggravate U.S. budget challenges.

But Europe’s experience also cautions against excessive austerity measures that can turn a weak recovery into another recession. “These are critical times,” says Senate Budget Committee Chairman Kent Conrad, “and we’ve got to be smart about how we get back on track.”

New Hampshire Forum: Weighing the Prospects for Fiscal Reform

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If Congress were to simply follow the budget path laid out in current law, the federal government might escape some of its widely anticipated fiscal problems over the next few years. But that is a big “if,” as became clear Friday at a forum at the University of New Hampshire School of Law.

In the keynote speech, Mark Zandi, chief economist for Moody’s Analytics, said he was more optimistic than many economists about the nation’s prospects and the likelihood that Washington would move the country onto a more sustainable track.

Warner and Chambliss Receive 2011 Economic Patriot Award

The Concord Coalition this week recognized Senators Mark Warner (D-Va.) and Saxby Chambliss (R-Ga.) for their leadership of the "Gang of Six" in the search for bipartisan fiscal reform. 

Former Sen. Sam Nunn (D-Ga.), a member of Concord's board of directors,  presented Chambliss and Warner with the 2011 Paul E. Tsongas Economic Patriot Award at the organization’s annual dinner Wednesday night in Washington.

A Sense of Urgency About the Nation's Fiscal Challenges

When a panel of fiscal experts took the stage at The Concord Coalition’s annual Economic Patriots Dinner last week, nobody was expecting a lot of happy talk about the federal debt. But the immediate sense of urgency may have caught some listeners off-guard, with one panelist -- Robert Rubin, former Treasury secretary -- warning about a possible “implosion” if large numbers of investors suddenly lost confidence in the United States.

Deficit Concerns, Other Priorities Point Toward Tighter Pentagon Budgets

If President Obama was looking for Congress to rubber-stamp his request for additional “emergency” funding for military operations in Iraq and Afghanistan this year, he was sorely disappointed. He asked for the money last February but a wary Congress didn’t approve the funding until just last week, and only after considerable debate over the war effort and U.S. spending priorities.

IMF Prescribes Both Spending Cuts and Tax Increases for the United States

The International Monetary Fund has given Americans a tough-minded analysis of the challenges we face in putting the country on a more responsible fiscal course. While a recent IMF report points to some bright spots in the U.S. economy and praises federal policies in some key areas, it offers less upbeat predictions than the Obama administration has issued. More belt-tightening, the international organization warns, will be needed in the next few years and beyond.

If Successful, New Efficiency Efforts Would Be Steps in the Right Direction

If the Obama administration follows through on its newly announced effort to identify and weed out unproductive federal programs, it could build public confidence and support for more sweeping fiscal reforms in the future.

Economic Recovery and Other Uncertainties Are No Excuse For Failure to Plan A More Responsible Fiscal Course

How large is the federal debt? That's something of a trick question in economic circles, and some analysts believe it may have already tripped up the President's fiscal commission.

The defense budget should not be off limits

If fiscal responsibility calls for significant changes in the big federal entitlement programs, shouldn’t the defense budget face scrutiny and reductions as well?

That question comes up a lot when The Concord Coalition emphasizes the need for entitlement reform. The answer is, “Yes.”

About a fifth of the federal budget goes to the Pentagon, and it is clear that there are many opportunities to achieve significant savings without jeopardizing national security.

A fiscal commission: liberal or conservative plot?

It’s a little amusing to see how badly the idea of a bipartisan fiscal commission has frightened some partisans at both ends of the political spectrum. That alone indicates the idea may have merit.