Warnings on the Debt Limit

Submitted by swinn on Tue, 02/06/2018 - 09:47

In part because of new deficit-financed tax cuts, the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) has moved up its projection for when lawmakers must act on the federal debt limit to the first half of March.

That projection had previously been late March or early April.

If Congress fails to raise the $20.5 trillion debt limit in time, CBO reminded them in a report last week, it “would ultimately lead to delays of payments for government activities, a default on the government’s debt obligations, or both.”

Rising Interest Rates Will Increase Federal Budget Challenges

Submitted by swinn on Mon, 02/05/2018 - 16:31

Last week brought some good news for the economy and challenging news for the federal budget.

The good news was a solid jobs number -- a gain of 200,000 in January -- and an even more promising gain in average hourly wages to 2.9 percent from a year earlier. Combined with steady, if unspectacular, growth of 2.6 percent at an annual rate in the fourth quarter of 2017, the economy seems to be doing pretty well.

Deficit of Debt Discussion in State of the Union

Submitted by jgordon on Wed, 01/31/2018 - 10:08

It is deeply disappointing that in his first State of the Union Address President Trump failed to mention the state of the nation’s finances.

He could have told the American people that the national debt is at its highest level relative to the economy since the end of World War II and is on an unsustainable path.

He could have warned that health care and retirement income programs, primarily Medicare and Social Security, are steadily growing on autopilot faster than the revenues needed to pay for them as the population ages.

GAO Reports on Medicare's Expensive Prescription Drug Spending

Submitted by jgordon on Mon, 01/29/2018 - 14:41

A recent report from the Government Accountability Office (GAO) highlights how current law can boost the costs of certain expensive drugs through Medicare.

The report focuses on the pricing of Medicare Part B drugs, which are usually administered under a doctor’s supervision. In 2015 Medicare spent $26 billion on Part B drugs.

In Memory of Ed Lorenzen

Submitted by jgordon on Mon, 01/29/2018 - 11:03

Fiscal responsibility lost a great champion on Friday with the tragic death of Ed Lorenzen and his youngest son.

At The Concord Coalition we lost a valued colleague and cherished friend.

Our hearts go out to Ed’s family, including his two surviving children, and to our friends at the Committee For a Responsible Federal Budget where Ed worked for the past several years.

The deep sense of loss we all feel with Ed’s passing can only be mitigated, in part, by the gratitude we feel for having known him.

The High Cost of Stop-Gap Budget Measures

Submitted by swinn on Fri, 01/26/2018 - 12:55

No sooner had Congress approved its fourth budget stop-gap measure in four months than lawmakers began talking about the need for a fifth one in February.

On Wednesday the No. 2 Republican in the Senate, Majority Whip John Cornyn, raised the possibility that “we may be talking about March” before lawmakers can reach an agreement on spending caps and a final catch-all spending bill for the current fiscal year.

Government To Reopen But With Irresponsible Tax Cuts

Submitted by swinn on Mon, 01/22/2018 - 15:14

WASHINGTON -- The Concord Coalition expressed frustration today over Washington’s need for repeated short-term stop-gap funding measures and the inclusion of policies in them that will further increase the deficit.

The Debate Over Earmarks

Submitted by swinn on Wed, 01/17/2018 - 09:39

Lawmakers on Capitol Hill are debating whether to revive the practice of earmarks after President Trump expressed support for reversing a ban that has been in place since 2011. The ban was originally touted as a way to crack down on wasteful spending and reduce budget deficits. But earmarks’ impact on the country’s long-term fiscal health has always been quite limited.

On Health Care Costs: One Small Step Forward, One Big Step Back

Submitted by jgordon on Tue, 01/16/2018 - 13:54

Last week brought consequential developments on the road to health care cost control.

On the positive side, the Trump administration unveiled a new payment reform model while the nominee for Health and Human Services (HHS) secretary indicated a willingness to reverse course and allow a key type of cost-control experimentation.