September 1, 2014

Blogs

New Congressional Report on Tax Reform: Base Broadening Is Hard To Do

The Congressional Research Service (CRS) has released a new report by Jane Gravelle and Thomas Hungerford called “The Challenge of Individual Income Tax Reform: An Economic Analysis of Tax Base Broadening.” In a nutshell, the report could be called “Base Broadening Is Hard to Do.” 

The Costs Remain the Same

There has been a lot of confusion recently about whether the Affordable Care Act (ACA), the health care reform legislation passed in 2010, is now projected to cost substantially more than previously estimated.

The short answer is no -- the costs are still tracking pretty closely to the trajectory projected by the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) in 2010. The main reasons for the recent confusion involve a new estimate from the CBO and the fact that it has been two years since the legislation passed, putting us two years closer to the time it will be fully implemented.

The Current State of the Debt

As political candidates offer vague promises of spending restraint and Congress considers the administration’s new budget, Americans face an unpleasant fiscal landmark: before we get to the election in November, the national debt will exceed the U.S. economy’s entire annual production.

The debt has not exceeded the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) since World War II. Once that war was over, however, the debt stabilized and then steadily fell as a percentage of the economy.

You Can't Repeal IPAB Without a Credible Alternative

Last week two committees in the House of Representatives voted to repeal the Independent Payment Advisory Board (IPAB). This is an alarming attempt to undo a key cost-saving enforcement mechanism without putting anything else in its place.

You may recall that the IPAB was created by the Affordable Care Act (ACA – aka “health care reform”) to reduce the growth in Medicare spending through the use of a spending-target system and a fast-track legislative process. 

Introducing Our Indicators

Over the years that The Concord Coalition has been working to promote fiscal responsibility, we've gotten to know our network of grassroots members pretty well. By and large they are earnest, inquisitive, and have a thirst for the raw facts that allow them to draw their own conclusions. We always keep them in mind when we develop our educational tools.

Tax Policy in the President's Budget

In his Fiscal Year 2013 budget, President Obama proposes an array of tax proposals. Some of his suggestions are new and would move the country’s unfair, inefficient and overly complex tax system in a positive direction. But some of the most costly proposals are the ones we’ve seen many times before. Four points stand out in the tax proposals in the Obama budget:

The President's Proposal to Limit Itemized Deductions is Still a Great Idea

For the fourth time in four years, President Obama has tucked a little gem of a tax policy proposal into his budget: the proposal to limit the tax benefit of itemized deductions to 28 percent.  It’s a great idea because it would reduce a large tax subsidy (i.e., “tax expenditure”) for those who need it least, improve the economic efficiency of the tax code and raise revenues that could be used as part of a deficit-reduction package. Last year the Congressional Budget Office estimated the president's proposal would raise $293 billion over 10 years.

The Wyden-Ryan Medicare Plan Moves the Ball Forward

The demise of the deficit reduction super committee left many people wondering whether the polarized atmosphere in Washington has made it impossible for Republicans and Democrats to reach agreement on the thorniest issues that must be resolved to achieve a fiscal sustainability plan.  

So it was heartening last week to see a bipartisan pair of prominent lawmakers – Sen. Ron Wyden (D-Ore.) and Rep. Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) -- release a joint Medicare reform proposal.

New Hampshire Forum: Weighing the Prospects for Fiscal Reform

Related Media: 
See video

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.