North Carolina Program Highlights U.S. Budget Challenges

Submitted by jgordon on Wed, 05/24/2017 - 16:00

Members and guests of the Charlotte Economics Club in North Carolina gathered for a luncheon on May 18 to hear a trio of fiscal policy experts discuss the massive budgetary challenges facing the nation.

Robert Bixby, executive director of The Concord Coalition, moderated the timely discussion with Diane Lim, principal economist for the Conference Board, and G. William Hoagland, senior vice president of the Bipartisan Policy Center.  Lim had experience working in the Clinton administration while Hoagland served on the staff of Senate Republicans.

Trump Budget Lacks Credible Debt-Reduction Path

Submitted by jgordon on Tue, 05/23/2017 - 15:13

WASHINGTON -- The Concord Coalition expressed disappointment today in President Trump’s first budget proposal, saying it relies on improbable assertions of higher economic growth and unrealistic assumptions about future spending cuts to achieve its goal of balancing the budget in 10 years.

“The driving force of deficit reduction in this budget is the supposed super-charged economic growth effect of an unspecified tax cut,” said Concord Coalition Executive Director Robert L. Bixby. “That alone calls the credibility of the budget into question.”

Trump Favors Tax Cuts Over Deficit Reduction

Submitted by jgordon on Tue, 05/16/2017 - 15:58

Earlier this year President Trump said he would like to have a balanced budget “eventually” but not at the expense of higher spending on the military.

Robert L. Bixby, executive director of The Concord Coalition, called Trump’s comment “troubling because it indicates that he does not feel constrained by the need to make trade-offs in pursuit of his policy goals. It is an invitation to pit any worthy initiative against the goal of a balanced budget regardless of the cost.”

A Timely Fiscal Warning

Submitted by jgordon on Tue, 05/16/2017 - 15:56

Lawmakers recently received a timely warning about the nation’s fiscal health from a particularly credible and persuasive source: Gene L. Dodaro, comptroller general of the United States and the head of the Government Accountability Office (GAO).

The warning came as administration officials continued to work on President Trump’s tardy proposed 2018 budget, and as lawmakers have been considering substantial tax cuts and fundamental changes in the health care system.  

Health Care Primer

Submitted by jgordon on Thu, 05/11/2017 - 13:33

The United States health care system is larger than the gross domestic product of all but five other nations. Over the past several decades, health care costs have outpaced economic growth, inflation and personal incomes. One out of every six dollars of the nation’s annual production of goods and services is now devoted to health care. The implications of health care spending’s continued growth extend beyond traditional health care concerns, such as the availability and delivery of medical services; this growth is a major factor in national economic policy.

Discretionary Spending Primer

Submitted by jgordon on Thu, 05/11/2017 - 13:32

Federal spending falls into two basic categories: mandatory spending and discretionary spending. Programs such as Social Security and Medicare, for which benefits are awarded based on pre-determined formulas, are considered mandatory spending because once they are enacted they do not require annual congressional appropriations. Discretionary spending includes all programs for which funding is annually appropriated by Congress during the budget process.

Budget Process Primer

Submitted by jgordon on Thu, 05/11/2017 - 13:31

The official federal budget process was established in 1974 by the Congressional Budget and Impoundment Control Act. The budget process begins in February, when the president is supposed to submit his plan to Congress after discussions with federal department and agency leaders about their needs. The president’s budget is simply a recommendation to the legislative branch, which under the Constitution has the “power of the purse" to make decisions about funding.

Taxes Primer

Submitted by jgordon on Thu, 05/11/2017 - 13:30

The United States tax system is inefficient, overly complex and does not raise enough revenue to keep pace with federal spending. The gap between tax revenue and federal spending is projected to get worse in the coming years due to the effects of our aging population and rising health care costs pushing up the cost of spending programs. Whatever disagreements there may be about the appropriate size of the federal government, the “correct” level of revenue is that which adequately covers the cost of government spending.

Almost Forgotten: The 2018 Budget Process

Submitted by jgordon on Tue, 05/09/2017 - 15:54

Amid all the debate in Washington on health care, taxes and other things, the congressional budget process for the coming year is already behind schedule and seems to have almost been forgotten.

Congress has yet to even consider a Fiscal 2018 budget resolution, despite a statutory deadline of April 15 for having one in place. The congressional budget committees are still reportedly weeks away from even getting down to business on preparation of a resolution.

GAO Suggests Steps to Improve Government Efficiency

Submitted by jgordon on Tue, 05/09/2017 - 15:52

Attacking waste is no panacea for the federal government’s fiscal problems. Those problems are simply too large, and in any case there are often political differences over whether a particular project is a waste or an important public service.

But a recent report from the Government Accountability Office (GAO) is a reminder that there are still opportunities for significant savings and efficiency increases in many parts of the federal government.