October 2, 2014

bbixby's blog

Administration’s Updated Projections Show Little Change in Big Fiscal Picture

With the economy continuing its slow recovery, the administration’s Mid-Session Review budget projections released on Friday show little change in the overall outlook.

Bad Omens in This Year's Retreat From Hard Choices

Following last year’s bipartisan budget agreement, this was supposed to be the year of a harmless fiscal ceasefire on Capitol Hill. Unfortunately, the ceasefire is becoming a retreat for fiscal responsibility.

‘Dead Men Ruling’ Examines Harmful Fiscal Legacy, Yet Offers Hope

A book titled “Dead Men Ruling” is not the place you would expect to find an optimistic message about our nation’s future. That is the case, however, with a new book from budget expert Eugene Steuerle of the Urban Institute. The critical connection he draws between renewed fiscal freedom and generational fairness casts the budget debate in a far more important context than deficit reduction for its own sake. This larger theme is one that The Concord Coalition has long embraced.

Budget Process Remains Stuck on Short-Term Focus

All dressed up and nowhere to go.

That’s the sad situation with the federal budget process.

We now have 10-year budget proposals from President Obama and the House of Representatives. They are quite different and would be very difficult to bring together in the best of circumstances. That doesn’t really matter, however, because there is nothing in the process to force a negotiation.

Fixing The Debt Limit Frankenstein

Like Frankenstein’s monster, the statutory debt limit will soon come back to life. It has been in a state of suspended animation since the October 2013 budget deal that ended the government shutdown.

The terms of that deal allowed the government to borrow without limit through this Friday, when the suspension period ends and the current debt level of about $17.3 trillion instantly becomes the new limit.

The Budget Deal: A Beginning or the End?

President Obama hailed the two-year budget deal reached by House Budget Committee Chair Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) and Senate Budget Committee Chair Patty Murray (D-Wash.) as a “good first step.”

If he meant a good first step toward broader reforms needed to put the nation’s finances on sounder footing for the long-term, let’s hope he is right.

It is not clear, however, that Capitol Hill leaders, or the President for that matter, have any plans to follow up this very modest achievement with anything more.

In Quest for a Grand Bargain, Lawmakers Can't Skip the Bargaining

Who says that Democrats and Republicans can't reach a grand bargain?

Harry Reid and Paul Ryan seem to have it figured out. If Democrats and Republicans don’t demand compromises from each other, everyone can get along. It’s the perfect political grand bargain: Do nothing.

Unfortunately, that could easily become a self-fulfilling prophecy.

We Need Less Bombast and More Breathing Room

We will soon see whether there is any remaining capacity in the U.S. political system to reach compromise across partisan lines for the common good.

Republican congressional leaders say that if President Obama wants the government to reopen and the debt limit to be increased he will have to make concessions on spending and agree to negotiate a long-term deficit reduction deal. Obama says he will not negotiate anything until the debt limit is raised and the government reopened. After that, he’ll talk.

Despite Difficulties, There's Still Hope for a Grand Bargain

Developments on the budget front last week demonstrated both the difficulty of achieving a grand bargain and why it may not be totally out of reach.  

First, the difficulty.