A Holiday Rush on Overdue Federal Budget

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Hoping to meet a Jan. 15 deadline for congressional action, lawmakers responsible for appropriations and their staffs are rushing to put together detailed spending plans for the 3-month-old fiscal year.

Agreement on a compromise budget plan, which President Obama signed Thursday, enabled the appropriations process to finally move forward after months of partisan gridlock and a costly government shutdown.

Unfortunately, the budget plan does little to meet the fundamental long-term fiscal challenges facing the country. Once again, that work – which should include serious reforms in the tax code and big federal entitlement programs — has been left for another day.

Meanwhile, uncertainty continues over the federal debt limit, which Congress must raise soon. The limit is suspended through Feb. 7, and Treasury Secretary Jack Lew recently warned lawmakers that “extraordinary measures” to avoid a default could only last through late February or early March.

Republicans want political concessions in return for supporting a debt limit increase. But President Obama reiterated at a Friday press conference that he would not negotiate with lawmakers over raising the limit, saying “It’s part of doing their job.”

The Concord Coalition urges elected officials to approve a reasonable increase and then pursue reforms to make the debt limit a more effective check on fiscal recklessness.

External links:
The Budget Deal: A Beginning or the End? (Concord Coalition blog post)
Analysis of Bipartisan Budget Act (CBO)
New York Times Chart Comparing Budget Plans
President Obama’s Year-End Press Conference
Understanding the Federal Debt Limit (Concord Coalition)
Late Start to Tax Filing Season Will Affect X Date (Bipartisan Policy Center)
Fox News Sunday With Paul Ryan Interview
Treasury Secretary’s Dec. 19 Letter to Congress on the Debt Limit

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