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A More Realistic Look at Sequestration

June 14, 2012

In a recent release, the Bipartisan Policy Center (BPC) estimates that the automatic cuts (“sequestration”) in defense funding scheduled for next January could shrink that funding by 14.7 percent in 2013.  That figure, however, is based on several very questionable assumptions that essentially amount to a worst-case scenario....

Here’s Our Take on the House’s Low-Income Cuts

May 11, 2012

News stories (like this and this) and commentaries (like this) offer differing numbers on how...

Who Really Punted on Pell?

April 27, 2012

Pell Grants to help students from low-income families pay for college face a $58 billion shortfall over the next decade — even though the Congressional Budget Office says the program’s costs will remain flat during that period — because the way Congress has funded them in recent years...

“Fair-Value” Proposal Would Artificially Inflate Federal Lending Costs

April 10, 2012

Charles Lane argues in a Washington Post op-ed today that the official cost estimates of federal loan and loan guarantee programs should include a penalty based on the additional amount that private lenders would charge if they issued the loans...

When Is a Deal Not a Deal?

March 22, 2012

With defense funding well above the Budget Control Act’s (BCA) funding caps in coming years, and non-defense discretionary funding very far below those caps, House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan’s new budget bears little resemblance to the bipartisan agreement reached last summer (see graph).

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The Myth of the Out-of-Control Federal Government

February 29, 2012

Are the size and reach of the federal government exploding, as some have suggested?  While overall federal spending is well above its historical average as a share of the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) and is expected to remain so even after the economy recovers, our new examination of the latest Congressional Budget Office (CBO)...

Speaker Gingrich’s Claim of $500 Billion in Civil Service Savings Doesn’t Add Up

February 23, 2012

In last night’s presidential candidate debate, former House Speaker Newt Gingrich said, “if we were prepared to repeal the 130-year-old civil service laws and go to a modern management system, we could save a minimum of $500 billion a year with a better system.”


Of Zeno’s Dichotomy Paradox, "Takers," and Deficit Reduction

February 16, 2012

Do you know Zeno of Elea’s famous Dichotomy Paradox?  More than 2,000 years ago, he noted that if Homer wanted to walk all the way to the market, he would first have to walk halfway there, then half of the remaining difference, then half of the remaining difference again so that,...

Three Things for Congress to Remember When Voting on the Debt Limit

January 18, 2012

With the President’s announcement last week, the debt limit is about to rise — automatically — unless Congress enacts a law freezing it at its current level.  While lawmakers may not enjoy allowing a debt limit increase, they all should keep the following...

Federal Pay Freeze Proposal Obscures Likely Cuts in Domestic Funding

December 12, 2011

The payroll tax-cut proposal that House Republican leaders circulated on December 9 would, among other things, reduce the funding caps for non-defense discretionary (NDD) programs by a total of $29 billion over the nine-year period 2013-2021.  The bill says the savings would come from extending the existing pay freeze on federal civilian personnel for another year, through December 31, 2013....