October 1, 2014

Posts on federal budget

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Wednesday, January 6, 2010 - 10:57 AM

When we finished our issue brief on the health care reform "endgame" before the holidays, we had a difficult time trying to isolate the key 10-year costs and savings of different components of the legislation. Now that we have had a bit more time with the final House and Senate versions of the legislation and the CBO analyses, we wanted to present the following table:

 House BillSenate Bill
Insurance Coverage Expansion1052871
   
Minus Offsets  

Spending Cuts

352413
CLASS Act10272
Tax Increases570474
Penalties16843
Subtotal (offsets)1,1921,002
   
Deficit Reduction-138...
Monday, November 16, 2009 - 12:29 PM

For the last few weeks, members of Congress have been increasingly pushing for a bipartisan commission to tackle the nation's fiscal challenges. The impetus has been the need to raise the debt limit as the national debt rapidly approaches the $12 trillion statutory ceiling. Because legislation to raise the debt limit is must-pass, lawmakers are trying to tie commission creation to the legislative language. Senator Evan Bayh highlighted this issue in a letter to Majority Leader Harry Reid, which was co-signed by nine additional senators. The Blue Dog coalition of Democrats in the House also recently announced their support for a commission.

Last week, Budget Committee Chairman Senator Kent Conrad held...

Wednesday, November 11, 2009 - 11:01 AM

This week marks the debut of Concord's new, online budget game -- The Federal Budget Challenge.

Based on our Principles and Priorities game, which has been used for years in hundreds of classrooms and town hall meetings across the country, users work through 11 different policy categories and choose the spending and tax policies that fit their preferences while being mindful of their budgetary effects.

Developed in partnership with the California-based non-profit Next 10, this online tool tracks the effect of individual policy choices on interest costs and the projected 10-year budget deficit as the choices are made. The game has already been mentioned in The Wall Street Journal and The New York Times.

It is important to point out what this game is and isn't. The...

Thursday, November 5, 2009 - 4:18 PM

The news from Thursday’s Washington Post:

The Senate voted Wednesday to renew the government’s $8,000 tax credit for first-time home buyers through the first six months of next year as part of a broader bill designed to extend unemployment benefits.

For the first time, the tax credit program would also enable many homeowners who buy a new primary residence to receive a $6,500 refund.

The measure was attached to a bill that would provide 20 weeks of unemployment benefits in more than two dozen states with jobless rates above 8.5 percent and up to 14 weeks elsewhere. Another provision in the bill would allow businesses that had operating losses in 2008 and 2009 to seek refunds for taxes paid on profits over the past five years.

Why this legislation now?  Because despite signs that the economy as a whole, as measured by GDP, is growing again, most American households are still feeling the pain of a very weak labor market which all economists expect will be unusually slow to recover this time around.  Hence, the extension of unemployment benefits is easy to justify.

But what about the ...

Monday, October 19, 2009 - 10:23 PM

I have written a lot in this blog about the Congressional Budget Office and their estimates (here is the latest example). Today, the Washington Post has another great article explaining the process.

Reading it, I thought about how many things we do here at Concord that depend on CBO. We have been working over the last few weeks updating all of our education exercises with CBO information and data. Next week we will be unveiling a new online budget game that also is based on CBO publications. As is our plausible baseline, chart talks and many of our issue briefs.

We do this not because CBO can see the future, but because having a neutral umpire (especially one easily searchable online!), makes what we have to say stand out--because we don't have to spend as much time worrying or...

Sunday, August 30, 2009 - 8:53 PM

The first definition of “plausible” on dictionary.com is:

plausible
[plaw-zuh-buhl]

having an appearance of truth or reason; seemingly worthy of approval or acceptance; credible; believable: a plausible excuse; a plausible plot.

Note that it doesn’t say “likely” or “probable”–it connotes the notion of possibility not probability. I bring this up because many folks, especially the media, want to interpret the “Concord Coalition Plausible Baseline” as our best forecast of what the fiscal outlook will turn out to be. No, we’re not saying that’s the most likely outcome; we’re saying that’s a plausible, possible outcome. And it’s a worst-case scenario, because that’s what we do at Concord: we warn about the possible really bad outcomes if we don’t start making more responsible choices–because we don’t want them to happen.

On Saturday's front page of the Washington Post...

Tuesday, August 25, 2009 - 12:14 PM

Throughout the day, Concord will be releasing new items related to today's budget numbers released by the CBO and OMB.

For immediate reactions, check out our Twitter feed.

Our new Concord Plausible Baseline Chart with its backup data can be found on our baseline page.

A press release is in the works (it is up now--JG), but for now a few interesting statistics:

  • Our baseline, which is based on the CBO baseline and extends current policy, shows a $14.4 trillion in additional deficits over the next 10 years.
  • By 2019, debt held by the public will pass 100% of GDP (102%)
  • In 2019, interest on the debt will cost over $1 trillion. At 5% of GDP, that will be more than spending on National defense or domestic discretionary programs.

More soon...

...in the...

Friday, August 21, 2009 - 4:10 PM

Bloomberg and AP reported this week that the Obama Administration’s latest budget outlook, scheduled for release next Tuesday (same day as CBO’s summer update–watching the PR and press that day will be interesting), will show that they expect the fiscal year 2009 budget deficit to come in $262 billion lower than they predicted in May–at “only” $1.58 trillion, or 11.2 percent of GDP. Cause for celebration? Well, only if you don’t mind “premature celebration.”

Both articles point out that a $1.6 trillion deficit is not really qualitatively different from a $1.8 trillion deficit (both are “humongous”). From the Bloomberg article (by Brian Faler and Roger Runningen):

The deficit figure, as revised, would amount to 11.2 percent of the nation’s economy, the official said. That would be the biggest share since 1945.

“It’s better than we expected but it’s still a huge deficit,” said Stan Collender, a...

Friday, August 14, 2009 - 10:41 AM

Last Friday, Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner sent a letter to Congress requesting an increase in the statutory debt limit.  In the letter, Geithner noted:

"It is critically important that Congress act before the limit is reached so that citizens and investors here and around the world can remain confident that the United States will always meet its obligations."

The current statutory debt limit is $12.104 trillion.  As it stands today, the national debt is $11.658 trillion -- providing less than $500 billion of buffer room.  The Treasury Department expects federal debt to exceed the limit sometime this fall

To help everyone understand the statutory debt limit, the drivers behind this proposed increase, and the options available to policymakers, The Concord Coalition published an "Understanding the Federal Debt Limit" issue brief. The brief sets out to make sense of these developments and encourage Congress to address the real issues at hand. 

 

P.S. On a...

Thursday, July 30, 2009 - 11:18 AM

The Congressional Budget Office once again validates some intuition many of us had about health care reform: when you have health costs rising much faster than the economy is growing, a package that expands coverage but is unwilling to tax health benefits to pay for it is not likely to add up to a deficit-neutral plan over the longer term. The basic problem is that the cost of coverage expansion will continue to increase at the same rate as health care costs, but the tax increase offsets will only grow (at best) at the rate of economic growth. Then you have an additional problem that many of the offsets might be one-time cuts or cuts whose value does not even keep up with economic growth or inflation. 

Quoting from pages 12-13 of the report (a letter to Congressman Dave Camp (R-MI) on the House tri-committee proposal), emphasis added:

Looking ahead to the decade beyond 2019, CBO tries to evaluate the rate at which the budgetary impact of...