October 20, 2014

Blogs

The President's Proposal to Limit Itemized Deductions is Still a Great Idea

For the fourth time in four years, President Obama has tucked a little gem of a tax policy proposal into his budget: the proposal to limit the tax benefit of itemized deductions to 28 percent.  It’s a great idea because it would reduce a large tax subsidy (i.e., “tax expenditure”) for those who need it least, improve the economic efficiency of the tax code and raise revenues that could be used as part of a deficit-reduction package. Last year the Congressional Budget Office estimated the president's proposal would raise $293 billion over 10 years.

The Wyden-Ryan Medicare Plan Moves the Ball Forward

The demise of the deficit reduction super committee left many people wondering whether the polarized atmosphere in Washington has made it impossible for Republicans and Democrats to reach agreement on the thorniest issues that must be resolved to achieve a fiscal sustainability plan.  

So it was heartening last week to see a bipartisan pair of prominent lawmakers – Sen. Ron Wyden (D-Ore.) and Rep. Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) -- release a joint Medicare reform proposal.

New Hampshire Forum: Weighing the Prospects for Fiscal Reform

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If Congress were to simply follow the budget path laid out in current law, the federal government might escape some of its widely anticipated fiscal problems over the next few years. But that is a big “if,” as became clear Friday at a forum at the University of New Hampshire School of Law.

In the keynote speech, Mark Zandi, chief economist for Moody’s Analytics, said he was more optimistic than many economists about the nation’s prospects and the likelihood that Washington would move the country onto a more sustainable track.

Debating the Payroll Tax Cut: The Difference Between Stimulus and Growth

The current debate over extending the payroll tax cut well demonstrates that policymakers often mean different things when referring to policies that “help” or “expand” the economy. I often hear the words “stimulus” and “growth” used interchangeably, but when economists use them, we typically are making a distinction between different economic goals that apply to different circumstances.

The Iowa Super Committee

It is now a little under one week until the deadline for the congressional joint committee on deficit reduction, or super committee, to report its recommendations.  Inside Washington, many are skeptical that committee members will meet their goal of $1.5 trillion in further deficit reduction.

Warner and Chambliss Receive 2011 Economic Patriot Award

The Concord Coalition this week recognized Senators Mark Warner (D-Va.) and Saxby Chambliss (R-Ga.) for their leadership of the "Gang of Six" in the search for bipartisan fiscal reform. 

Former Sen. Sam Nunn (D-Ga.), a member of Concord's board of directors,  presented Chambliss and Warner with the 2011 Paul E. Tsongas Economic Patriot Award at the organization’s annual dinner Wednesday night in Washington.

To Go Big, Keep Going

Members of the Joint Select Committee on Deficit Reduction (“super committee”) have a timing problem that compounds their political problem. Put simply, they may run out of time to reach agreement on the kind of comprehensive changes that are needed to put the nation’s finances on a sustainable path. However, with a little cooperation and a strong dose of leadership, they need not let the clock run out on their efforts.

AARP Ignores Need for Fiscal Reform

Last week, AARP doubled-down on its insistence that Social Security and Medicare benefits should be off the table in negotiations to stabilize the nation’s debt.

Seeking Solutions -- Two By Two

Last January, members of Congress paired up with colleagues of the opposite party for the State of the Union Address. It was a welcome, if symbolic, display of political civility.

In the ensuing months, Congress and the Obama administration have struggled to put this civility into practice as they have grappled with sincere disagreements over the best approach to meeting the nation’s fiscal and economic challenges.

Bernanke on Going Big in Both Ways

NOTE: an earlier version of this post appears on EconomistMom.com