April 19, 2014

The Federal Budget

Budget deficits are back for as far as the eye can see.

This alone is a very serious development. Of more concern, however, is that politicians in Washington are not even working on a plan to bring the deficit under control. Instead, they have indiscriminately cut taxes, increased spending, allowed budget enforcement rules to expire and ignored the long-term dangers of large chronic deficits.

Reversing this trend will take the discipline imposed by a firm fiscal policy goal, and the rules to enforce it. These elements, which are now missing from budget debates in Washington, were crucial to the successful deficit reduction efforts of the 1990s.

The Concord Coalition believes that a credible long-term budget plan is needed. Just beyond the ten-year budget horizon, America's age wave begins to roll in. If age-related entitlement programs such as Social Security and Medicare are left on autopilot, all projections -- by the Congressional Budget Office (CBO), the Government Accountability Office (GAO), and President's Office of Management and Budget (OMB) -- indicate that deficits will eventually rise to economy-shattering levels.

The American public is beginning to understand that the status quo is unsustainable. It's hard to imagine anything that would do more to boost near-term economic confidence than a credible plan to address America's long-term budget challenge.

Concord Coalition's Plausible Baseline (above)

Three times each year The Concord Coaliton releases a 10-year budget scenario in response to updates from the Congressional Budget Office. This provides insight into what the budget might look like for the next 10 years if Congress simply followed current taxing and spending policy without making any major changes. For more information on our baseline, including backup data, click here.

Concord Coalition Washington Budget Report

Delivered weekly when Congress is in session, the new Concord Coalition Washington Budget Report gives you the news, behind the scenes stories, and thoughtful analysis in a lively and easy-to-read format that you won't find anywhere else. Written and edited by Charles Konigsberg, Chief Budget Counsel of The Concord Coalition, The Concord Coalition Washington Budget Report will be your source for news about the budget and fiscal policy.
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Federal Budget Basics

Every year the President of the United States submits a budget to Congress representing the Administration's priorities for the next year and beyond. Congress is not required to adopt the President's budget. Instead it formulates it's own budget called the Congressional Budget Resolution. Once approved by the House and Senate, it becomes the blueprint for spending and taxation legislation.

To learn more about the federal budget or Concord Coalition's stance on the budget please check out the following links.

Budget Process

In the past, Congress has repeatedly attempted to tinker with (or outright rewrite) their budgeting rules to encourage deficit reduction. Even the most successful attempts have been limited. When the will is not there, no matter what the rules, a way can be found to twist or avoid the limits they impose.

This does not mean that the federal budget process is unimportant, it is quite important. The rules imposed by the process can help deficit hawks fight the low tax/high spending tendencies of other, less fiscally responsible, members. Recently the Concord Coalition joined with a group of fiscal policy leaders to suggest process changes that might pave the way for a better fiscal future.