April 30, 2017

Blogs

Suppressed Pentagon Study Identified $125 Billion of Potential Savings

Many politicians, including the president-elect, have focused their efforts to improve the federal government’s finances on the elimination of waste, fraud and abuse.

Treasury Nominee’s Remarks Raise Questions About Trump Tax Plan

No sooner had Steven Mnuchin confirmed that he was the President-elect’s pick for Treasury secretary than he raised eyebrows in both parties by saying that the new administration’s tax plan would not give an overall tax cut to high-income households.

Republicans Are Sending Mixed Signals on Health Care

How the incoming Trump administration handles health care policy is perhaps the most consequential question hanging over the nation’s budgetary outlook.

That’s why policy analysts are scrambling to read the tea leaves on health care amid conflicting signals. Republicans seem to have one foot on the gas pedal and one foot on the brakes.

Budget Experts Encourage Long-Term Thinking on Fiscal Issues

Budget experts urged the incoming Trump administration and congressional leaders to address the country’s long-term fiscal challenges at two events in Washington last week. 

Health Care Spending Grew Faster than the Economy in 2015

National health expenditures grew by 5.8 percent in 2015, pushing health care spending to 17.8 percent of the economy, up from 17.4 percent in 2014. This marks the second year in a row spending has grown more quickly than the economy, following a stable period from 2009 to 2013. 

You Can't Just Keep the 'Good Parts'

The Affordable Care Act (ACA) dramatically altered the individual insurance market by forcing insurers to insure anyone regardless of health status or pre-existing conditions. It also eliminated caps on coverage. 

These changes have been popular. When elected officials say they support banning insurance companies from discriminating against individuals with pre-existing conditions, they are supporting this part of the ACA. One of what many people consider the “good parts” of the legislation.

Debt Is a No-Show at First Debate

The first segment of the first presidential debate between Democrat Hillary Clinton and Republican Donald Trump was dedicated to achieving prosperity.

That provided an opportunity for the moderator to ask about -- and the candidates to talk about -- their respective plans for putting the nation’s projected debt on a sustainable path. It’s hard to see how prosperity can be achieved, or long maintained, with a debt that is projected to reach unsustainable levels.

Unfortunately, the subject was not discussed.

Pass Biennial Budgeting to Fix a Broken Budget Process

Even casual observers of today’s federal budget process can see it is badly broken.

Congress has repeatedly failed to pass budget resolutions. Failure to pass appropriations bills has become the norm, forcing lawmakers to rely on continuing resolutions, bills that simply extend prior spending regardless of shifting priorities. And efforts to negotiate legislation on a long-term fiscal plan are non-existent. 

Penny Plan Is Not a 'Plan,' It’s a Dodge

The penny plan to reduce spending by one cent on every dollar (one percent a year) has been bouncing around Washington for years but is now getting a higher profile with versions supported by the Senate Budget Committee Chairman Mike Enzi and the Republican nominee for president, Donald Trump. 

Three Signs of Fiscal Life in Washington

The overall budget picture in Washington remains bleak as lawmakers have left town without making any meaningful progress on the appropriations process. They are now anticipating a September scramble to approve a Continuing Resolution (CR) to keep the government open after the new fiscal year begins Oct. 1. This means Congress, yet again, would be falling back on legislation that indiscriminately maintains the funding levels of the previous year, with little or no attention to the necessity of increased or decreased funding levels for important programs.