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:
"It isn't fiscally irresponsible to raise the debt limit, I think it would be rather irresponsible not to raise the debt limit because we have already incurred the bill."
That quote, from Concord executive director Bob Bixby, is one of many from our new videos highlighting some of the key points driving fiscal discussions in Washington.
We recorded the videos because the Senate is set to begin debate on increasing the debt ceiling while all of Congress awaits the President's budget proposal, which will purportedly contain the Administration's ideas for how to reduce the country's budget deficits.
The first shows a discussion about the basics behind increasing the debt limit and how there are a few key budget process reforms tied to fiscal responsibility that have become part of the debate as the Senate approaches a difficult vote. We talk about the possible Senate amendments...
It’s a little amusing to see how badly the idea of a bipartisan fiscal commission has frightened some partisans at both ends of the political spectrum. That alone indicates the idea may have merit.
Some skeptics, of course, doubt that a special bipartisan panel would have any hope of success in steering the government onto a more responsible fiscal course. And there’s no question that this would be a very tough assignment.
But the strident opposition to a bipartisan commission from some critics on both the right and the left is rooted in fears that such a panel might actually succeed. They describe commission proposals in conspiratorial terms, as though serious bipartisan planning for the nation’s future would be merely a cover for shady plots to sneak reprehensible policies past Congress and the American public. Oh, the deceit of it all...
The Wall Street Journal, for example, recently ran an editorial conceding that “current federal commitments are unsustainable, starting with $37 trillion in unfunded Medicare liabilities.”
Yet the editorial ruled out a bipartisan commission that could tackle this...
For the last few weeks, members of Congress have been increasingly pushing for a bipartisan commission to tackle the nation's fiscal challenges. The impetus has been the need to raise the debt limit as the national debt rapidly approaches the $12 trillion statutory ceiling. Because legislation to raise the debt limit is must-pass, lawmakers are trying to tie commission creation to the legislative language. Senator Evan Bayh highlighted this issue in a letter to Majority Leader Harry Reid, which was co-signed by nine additional senators. The Blue Dog coalition of Democrats in the House also recently announced their support for a commission.
Last week, Budget Committee Chairman Senator Kent Conrad held...
Here are a few initial thoughts from The Concord Coalition about the House of Representatives health care bill (H.R. 3962) and the preliminary scoring of that bill by the Congressional Budget Office (CBO):