January 17, 2017

Blogs

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.

In Capitol Hill Meetings, Signs of Real Interest in Fiscal Reform

It has been easy for advocates of generationally responsible tax and spending policies to look at Capitol Hill with dismay for the past few years. A few consequences of inaction and lack of bipartisanship include:

  • A complete breakdown in the federal budget process.

  • Continued struggles to replace arbitrary, shortsighted caps on discretionary spending with smarter deficit reduction.

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.”

The Hypocritical Opposition to Funding Medicare Payment Reform

Last week the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) proposed a new method of paying for health care services, using its authority under the Affordable Care Act (ACA) to scale up payment reforms that have been shown to save money while maintaining the quality of care.