Deficit Reduction and Other Key Issues to Watch as Congress Makes Funding Decisions

Blog Post
Monday, April 12, 2010

There are several key issues to watch in this year’s budget and appropriations process. The goal is to have all of the appropriations bills signed into law by the President by Oct. 1, the start of the new fiscal year. But complications and delays have become routine, particularly in election years. Deficit Reduction. What will the deficit reduction targets be in the congressional budget resolution and how will they compare with the President’s ambitious goals? Will the congressional targets be credible and based on realistic assumptions? Will there be specific details on offsets to new spending or tax cuts in any legislation implementing the budget resolution goals? The Concord Coalition believes that the deficit reduction targets should be at least as ambitious as the President's budget, which, according to CBO's March estimate, would still leave a deficit of $793 billion (4.3 percent of GDP) by the fifth year (FY 2015).Reconciliation. Given that the "fast track" reconciliation process was used this year to pass health care and student loan legislation, there will be pressure to use the process again for new proposals. Concord believes Congress should only use the reconciliation process for its intended purpose: to consider deficit reduction legislation through an expedited process. Discretionary Spending. What will the overall discretionary spending level be in the budget resolution? Will the Appropriations Committees adhere to the limits without resorting to budget gimmicks? Concord supports the President’s proposed three-year freeze on most discretionary spending. Budget Enforcement. Will the FY 2011 budget resolution include credible budget enforcement mechanisms or will there be new exemptions and loopholes?