Last Wednesday, President Obama requested approximately $6.2 billion to combat the Ebola epidemic. As Congress examines and debates this proposal, it is an important opportunity to reexamine our government’s budgetary policies.
An interesting poll this month in the Des Moines Register shows that Democrats and Republicans have very different opinions on the relative importance of the federal deficit versus unemployment and jobs as campaign issues. It might be, however, that the two sides just have different ways of expressing concern over the same issue: our nation’s economic future.
The administration trecently confirmed a bit of good news about the last fiscal year: the government borrowed substantially less than it did the year before.
But this drop, in line with a previous projection by the Congressional Budget Office (CBO), is no reason for complacency. The additional borrowing has still pushed the federal debt to well over $17.8 trillion, and the government remains on track to boost that by $7.2 trillion or more in the coming decade.
On a recent day in Florida, hundreds of people gathered to examine federal budget issues, question former members of Congress and push for sustainable fiscal policy. For me, that sparked hope for our nation’s future, even in the face of mounting federal debt and changing demographics.
The Concord Coalition and Fix the Debt partnered with two universities and eight former congressmen on Sept. 23 to present the programs and to help give members of the Millennial generation a larger voice on fiscal issues.
In 2011, Medicare spent $170 billion, or 28 percent of its total expenditures, on services for beneficiaries in their last six months of life. But a new report says many of these patients are not receiving the care they want and are undergoing costly and unnecessary tests, procedures, and hospital visits.
Our nation’s reliance on a 24-hour news cycle has bred an environment focused on quick stories with tag lines to keep us engaged. Listening to a recent panel discussion, I realized that the emphasis on sound bites needs to change if we are to have any hope of improving the nation’s fiscal footing. Enacting sustainable fiscal policy will take far more than a superficial exchange of partisan one-liners.
For several years we’ve heard a familiar tune from the Social Security trustees: Its programs are unsustainable in their current form but insolvency is still years away. This time is different because the next Congress will face a deadline to act.
In a move that many saw as inevitable unless lawmakers acted, the Department of Transportation announced recently that the dwindling Highway Trust Fund would have to begin delaying payments to state governments in August.