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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....

War, Taxes, and Priorities

December 7, 2011

The Senate will shortly consider the McConnell-Hatch balanced budget amendment, which prohibits any deficit in any year, prohibits tax increases, and caps total spending at implausibly low levels (about 16½ percent of gross domestic product) — requiring a two-thirds vote of the House and Senate to overturn these provisions.  It also requires a three-fifths vote of both houses to raise the debt...

Senate Balanced Budget Amendment an Extreme Version of a Bad Idea

December 5, 2011

Congress would have to cut all programs by an average of one-fourth by 2018 to meet the spending cap in the constitutional balanced budget amendment that the Senate is expected to consider this month, a new CBPP report explains.

Like any version of a balanced budget amendment, the Senate proposal — introduced by...

Balanced Budget Amendment = Bad News for the Economy

November 8, 2011

With the House planning to vote next week on a constitutional balanced budget amendment (BBA), we’ve issued a brief paper highlighting a scathing analysis of a BBA from Macroeconomic Advisers, a leading private economic forecasting firm.

“[R]ecessions would be deeper and longer” under a BBA, the analysis warns, and uncertainty would be cast over the economy that could retard economic growth even in normal economic times.

A “Joint” Budget Resolution? More Harm Than Good

October 14, 2011

The House and Senate Budget Committees have held hearings in recent weeks on ways to improve the congressional budget process. Unfortunately, many of the proposed changes would do more harm than good — including a proposal to insert the President into the budget resolution process.

Capping War Costs Would Lock in Real Savings, Prevent Future Mischief

September 21, 2011

The recent debt-ceiling deal limited the Pentagon’s non-war funding — but not its funding for the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. The President has now proposed to cap funding for the wars as well, and he counts $1 trillion in savings over ten years from doing so as part of his $4 trillion in total proposed budget savings. Some maintain that the $1 trillion in war savings are “phony” or a “gimmick.” We ourselves previously suggested that the savings should be reflected in the budget “baseline” rather than counted as part of the total savings a deficit-reduction plan achieves. Nevertheless, the President’s proposal itself is sound.

Chairman Ryan Can’t Have It Both Ways on Taxes and the Debt Limit Deal

August 5, 2011

We issued a paper Monday explaining why the debt limit agreement does not prevent the new Joint Select Committee from including tax increases in its deficit-reduction package. Since then, National Economic Council Director Gene Sperling has also written about why the Joint Committee isn’t constrained in this way. House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan claims otherwise, but his argument isn’t consistent with the new law — or with claims he made about his own budget plan just a few months ago.

A Closer Look at Those Across-the-Board Cuts

August 4, 2011

I’ve written a short paper, which the Center issued today, that briefly lays out the major pieces of the debt limit deal and explains how the automatic, across-the-board cuts it potentially entails would occur.