Greenstein: Fiscal Outlook Improving; Time to Focus on Jobs and Non-Defense Discretionary Funding
CBPP President Robert Greenstein testified today before the Senate Budget Committee on current budget trends and opportunities in light of the recent bipartisan budget agreement and the improving budget outlook.
The budget agreement, while modest, helped to mitigate some of the worst effects of sequestration this year and restore some normality to the appropriations process. In addition, the fiscal outlook over the medium and long term has improved markedly over the past several years. Challenges remain to put the budget on a sustainable path over the long term, but these recent changes in the fiscal landscape (which exceed what any of us expected) give Congress a chance to move away from the gridlock over budget battles that have preoccupied Washington but failed to produce a “grand bargain,” and to begin focusing to a greater degree on addressing other pressing problems that have been neglected in recent years.
Greenstein said Congress should address two issues in the coming two years: job creation and adequate funding for non-defense discretionary programs.
He recommended four specific job-related policies: a temporary extension of federal jobless benefits for long-term unemployed workers; an increase in the minimum wage; an expansion of the Earned Income Tax Credit for childless workers; and a modest subsidized jobs program.