FY 2011 APPROPRIATIONS: Prior to departing for the August recess, the House passed the first two FY 2011 appropriations bills. The Military Construction-Veterans Affairs bill passed by a vote of 411-6 and the Transportation-HUD bill passed by a vote of 251-167. House subcommittees reported the...
Last week President Obama nominated Jacob “Jack” Lew to be the new head of the Office of Management and Budget (OMB), replacing Peter Orszag, who is stepping down at the end of July. OMB is primarily responsible for developing the President’s budget.
If confirmed by the Senate, as expected, Lew will become OMB director for the second time. He served as President Clinton’s director from 1998 through the end of the Clinton administration in 2001.
While Lew is familiar with the job, the budget picture has changed considerably. Lew was OMB director during the only four years of budget surpluses since the late 1960’s. He was also a key negotiator on the bipartisan balanced budget agreement in 1997. Now the budget environment is even more partisan and the country is experiencing the largest deficits since the end of World War II.
The change in OMB leadership provides an opportunity to review the changes that have taken place since Lew’s last stint as budget director and also gives us another chance to review the major decisions looming for the federal budget.
The final budget presented by Lew for the Clinton administration in February of 2000 (FY 2001)...
2011 APPROPRIATIONS PROCESS MOVES FORWARD AS TIME STANDS STILL FOR THE 2010 SUPPLEMENTAL: Last week the House Appropriations Committee continued to make progress on the FY 2011 bills. House subcommittees reported the Military Construction and Veterans Affairs; Energy and Water; and...
Today the Senate began considering the $59 billion supplemental spending bill (HR 4899) that the Senate Appropriations Committee approved last week. The bill includes emergency funding for priorities such as military operations in Iraq/Afghanistan, disaster assistance and veterans disability payments. (For more details on the legislation, please see last week’s Washington Budget Report).
During the course of the week, amendments will likely be proposed to add extraneous items to the bill. The Concord Coalition urges policymakers to resist adding non-emergency spending that will add to deficits that are already fiscally unsustainable. If these items are added, they should be paid for without emergency designations that exempt them from budget allocations.
Another potential addition to the bill is a procedural device called a “deeming resolution.” Deeming resolutions are procedural shortcuts that Congress resorts to when its members have not lived up to their responsibility to pass a budget resolution. Deeming resolutions have...
The extenders bill that the House will consider this week is a timely reminder of why it is important for Congress to complete action on a budget resolution. A budget resolution continues to elude Congress, but there has been considerably less trouble reaching agreement on a bill that the Congressional Budget Office estimates will add a staggering $167 billion to the deficit over 2010-2014 and a net increase of $134 billion over 2010-2020.
Last Thursday, leaders of the Senate...
President Obama’s bipartisan fiscal commission will hold its first meeting on April 27. It has two very ambitious assignments -- find a way to balance the budget excluding interest on the debt by 2015 and “meaningfully improve” the long-term fiscal outlook. All of this is supposed to be done by December 1, 2010.
That’s quite a task. It may even be too much to ask. So here is a simple suggestion for the commission: Leave the short-term goal to the regular budget process and focus on the more important long-term goal.
Finding long-term solutions to the nation’s unsustainable fiscal outlook is what originally motivated members of Congress to propose a statutory commission. Only when that effort failed did the President step in by establishing an executive commission with the added goal of filling a gap in his budget.
The short-term budget goal could easily distract the commission from its long-term mission. Senate Budget Committee Chairman Kent Conrad, a commission member, had it right when he told POLITICO last week, “I don’t think a commission should be absorbed with the short-term budget. We need them to focus on long-term structural problems.”
Simply determining which baseline to use in assessing the required deficit reduction in 2015 would get the commission bogged down. They can’t know what it...
Following up on our press release about the President's Fiscal Year 2011 budget proposal, here are a few more thoughts:
Annual discretionary spending: