When Congress soon leaves the Capitol for the campaign trail, a long list of unfinished business will likely be left behind. This year will mark the first year since the modern budget process was created in 1974 that no budget resolution has been passed by either the House or the Senate. Of the twelve appropriations bills necessary to fund the federal government during the coming year, Congress has not enacted one of them.
Last week, House Republicans offered a “Pledge To America” outlining their fiscal priorities and reform ideas. As with most such campaign manifestos, it is long on base-pleasing rhetoric and short on troublesome details.
The Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services recently updated its estimate of National Health Spending. This unusual mid-year update, delivered in an article in Health Affairs, reflects changes due to the passage of the health care reform law in March, along with a few smaller legislative changes since then.
The Obama Administration is now considering a new set of tax cuts, primarily aimed at businesses, to further stimulate the economy. It's reported that a permanent extension of the research and experimentation tax credit is one of these new proposals. This is just the latest sign that the Administration is stuck in its own "deficit-financed tax cuts box."
One of my Concord colleagues recently relayed the following "old joke" to me, remarking that a fiscal policy issue we had been discussing reminded him of it. But when he said it, it reminded me instead of a different fiscal policy issue (and my favorite): the Bush tax cuts and the impending "fork in the road" for them -- whether they will largely endure as the "Obama tax cuts," or whether they will be allowed to expire as scheduled under current law, at least partially and/or eventually.
Good news comes and goes rather quickly in the 2010 Medicare Trustees’ Report. It begins with the optimistic news that Medicare’s finances have improved substantially as a result of this year’s health care reform bill, the Affordable Care Act (ACA). However, the report then goes on to explain in great detail why this apparently good news is probably not as good as it sounds.
Social Security’s contribution to the overall fiscal gap over the coming decades is smaller than Medicare’s, as the program’s trustees have again made clear in their annual report. If Social Security contributes so much less to the fiscal gap than Medicare, some people ask, why do we have to talk about reforming Social Security?