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Why Doing Nothing Would Reduce Deficits by $7.1 Trillion

November 17, 2011

E. J. Dionne’s Washington Post column today cites my estimate that we could reduce deficits by $7.1 trillion over the next decade simply by letting various temporary tax and spending policies expire on schedule.

A Caution on Biennial Budgeting

October 6, 2011

At a recent Senate Budget Committee hearing, several senators expressed support for the idea of implementing a two-year budget cycle, CQ reports. Proponents claim biennial budgeting will lead to more thoughtful budgeting and improved congressional oversight.

President’s Budget Plan Would, Indeed, Stabilize the Debt

September 21, 2011

We’ve noted that the budget plan President Obama released on Monday would produce a substantial accomplishment: stabilizing the federal debt as a share of the economy in the second half of this decade. We were surprised, therefore, to see Maya MacGuineas of the Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget quoted in the Washington Post (a quote that Thomas L. Friedman cited in his New York Times column) as stating that “They don’t even stabilize the debt.”

What Agreement on $2 Trillion in Spending Cuts?

July 12, 2011

Tea party stalwarts and some Republican presidential candidates notwithstanding, experts generally agree that Congress’ failure to raise the federal debt limit by early August to avert a default would seriously hurt the economy and the nation. But Republican lawmakers’ refusal to vote for an increase unless it’s accompanied by a major deficit reduction package has kept Congress from acting. That, however, is not what you might think after listening to some recent commentary about the debt limit negotiations.

Staged Vote on Clean Debt Limit Increase a Step Backward

May 31, 2011

House Republican leaders have scheduled a vote today on a “clean” debt limit increase—one that doesn’t tie the increase to other changes in budget or tax policies or other matters. President Obama and Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner have asked repeatedly for such a “clean bill” as the best way to assure that the debt limit is raised in a timely fashion, and to avoid uncertainty that could spook financial markets and harm the economy. So the scheduling of this vote is good news, right? Actually, no.

Proposed Spending Limits for 2012 Would Require Very Severe Cuts — Even Larger than Advertised

May 13, 2011

The limits on discretionary (annually appropriated) funding for fiscal year 2012 that House Appropriations Committee Chairman Hal Rogers (R-KY) proposed this week — the so-called 302(b) suballocations — would restrict total funding for non-security discretionary programs to $376 billion. That’s $63 billion (14.4 percent) below the austere 2011 level and $103 billion (21.5 percent) below the amount provided for 2010, adjusted for inflation.

Ryan Budget Plan Produces Far Less Real Deficit Cutting Than Reported

April 8, 2011

As we explain in a report released today, even some critics of House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan’s budget plan have praised his “courage” and his willingness to make “hard choices” to address looming deficits. But, upon closer inspection, Chairman Ryan’s widely reported claim that his plan produces $1.6 trillion in deficit reduction proves illusory. In fact, the numbers in his plan show that his budget produces just $155 billion in real deficit reduction over ten years.

CBO Finds President’s Policies Would Reduce Program Spending Compared to CBO’s Baseline

March 22, 2011

Many media reports on last week’s Congressional Budget Office analysis of the President’s budget have noted CBO’s estimate that the budget would produce deficits that are $2.7 trillion larger over the next ten years than would occur under CBO’s “baseline.” (The baseline essentially assumes no change in current law governing taxes and mandatory spending and projects future discretionary appropriations at the same level as provided this year, adjusted for inflation.) However, these reports often failed to explain that deficits would be higher not because the President proposes big increases in government programs, but because he proposes big tax cuts.

Proposed House GOP Non-Security Discretionary Cuts: Deeper Than They Appear

February 7, 2011

The cuts in non-security discretionary programs required by a proposal from House Republican leaders are deeper than you might think, as we explained in a report late last week.

McCaskill-Corker Sequestration Threatens Big, Disproportionate Cuts in Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, Other Entitlements

February 3, 2011

The legislation that Senators Claire McCaskill (D-MO) and Bob Corker (R-TN) introduced this week to limit total federal spending to 20.6 percent of the Gross Domestic Product includes a new “sequestration” process — automatic spending cuts if the spending limit is exceeded — that has some features in common with those now used to enforce the pay-as-you-go law and that were part of the Gramm-Rudman-Hollings (GRH) law in the late 1980s. But the McCaskill-Corker sequestration is dramatically different in one key respect — it would potentially impose big cuts in entitlement programs such as Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid.

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