April 26, 2017

Washington Budget Report: Nov. 30, 2010

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Fiscal Commission To Report on Wednesday

The President’s bipartisan fiscal commission faces a deadline Wednesday to make recommendations to Congress on how to cut deficits in the next few years and also deal with long-term structural problems in the federal budget.

President Obama created the National Commission on Fiscal Responsibility and Reform in February after congressional efforts to set up a similar bipartisan panel failed. Formal recommendations require support from 14 of the 18 commission members, a steep requirement that many observers have said would be difficult to meet.

Earlier this month Erskine Bowles and Alan Simpson, co-chairmen of the commission, released draft proposals that Concord Coalition Executive Director Robert Bixby praised as “a valuable and sobering fiscal reality check.”

Concord has challenged critics of proposals such as those in the Bowles-Simpson plan to specify what alternatives they would recommend.

On Monday Obama announced plans to freeze pay for executive-branch civilian employees for two years. Pay-freeze proposals have previously been suggested by Simpson and Bowles as well as House Republicans.

Budget Proposals Proliferate

As the country awaits the final recommendations of the President's fiscal commission, it is worth noting that several other substantive deficit-reduction plans have been released in recent months.

The plans offer a wide range of revenue, spending and budget-process options developed by bipartisan panels or groups representing different points on the political spectrum. Each plan recognizes that addressing the nation's fiscal challenges will require more than rhetoric about eliminating waste.

While The Concord Coalition may not agree with some of these recommendations, it commends all of the authors for putting specific options on the table.

Continuing Drama on the Continuing Resolution

This week the House and Senate are expected to act on a new continuing resolution to prevent a government shutdown. The current resolution expires on Friday, and unfortunately Congress has yet to enact a single one of the twelve appropriations bills for the fiscal year that began Oct. 1.

Another issue still on the congressional "to do" list is resolving the fate of the Bush tax cuts. Congressional leaders were scheduled to discuss the issue at a White House meeting today. Also, today the Senate is expected to vote on an amendment to establish a three-year moratorium on earmarks. Earlier this month, House and Senate Republicans voted to support a moratorium on earmarks for the 112th Congress.