Transparency Hearing Highlights Spending Data Issues

Even though Sunshine Week is officially this week, the House of Representatives got the ball rolling last Friday. The House Oversight and Government Reform Subcommittee on Technology, Information Policy, Intergovernmental Relations and Procurement Reform (say that ten times fast) held a hearing called "Transparency Through Technology: Evaluating Federal Open-Government Initiatives," although the hearing focused more on spending transparency than anything else. While one would expect that an oversight hearing in the House “evaluating” the Obama administration’s transparency efforts would be contentious, the most surprising aspect of the hearing was that it wasn’t.

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House Republicans Take Chainsaw to the Budget

While much of the national attention recently has been on President Obama’s fiscal year 2012 budget proposal, the House of Representatives is still looking backward to FY 2011. Last Friday, House Republicans unveiled a new and improved budget plan, one containing $60.9 billion in cuts from the FY 2010 budget ($65.5 billion cut from non-security discretionary, $4.7 billion increase for security spending). The new plan is an update to one released just days earlier, one which the party’s conservative faction rejected. These conservatives pushed for a full $100 billion worth of cuts from Obama’s FY 2011 budget (which as I said last week was a terrible baseline), and in a matter of days, the conservatives got them. And the new budget is full of bad news.  

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Recovery Board Chairman Backs Multi-Tier Reporting

While the new Republican House seems obsessed with cutting federal spending back to pre-stimulus levels, it can be easy to forget that the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act is still spending money. In fact, there’s still about $100 billion in stimulus contract, grant and loan money that has yet to go out the door. And the Recovery Board, which is in charge of displaying the Recovery Act recipient reports, is still at work. This week, in a big win for transparency advocates, the Board’s chairman, Earl Devaney, announced his support for multi-tier reporting, or reporting beyond prime and sub-recipients.

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Why Baselines Matter

If you were diligently reading the news yesterday about the new House budget proposal, you might have been a little confused. It seemed like news outlets couldn’t agree on how much the House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan’s (R-WI) plan for the FY 2011 budget actually cut:

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House GOP Learns Cutting Spending is Hard

Remember back in September of last year, when the House Republicans released the “Pledge to America,” stating their agenda should they win the House in coming election? If not, here was one line which stuck out to us: “we will roll back government spending to pre-stimulus, pre-bailout levels, saving us at least $100 billion in the first year alone....” Now that they are in control of the House, Republicans are quickly working to make good on that promise. Today, House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan (R-WI) released their new spending plan for fiscal year 2011, which contains cuts of... $35 billion. Looks like it isn’t quite as easy to cut spending as the new House majority thought.

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First OMB PAYGO Scorecard Puts Congress $64 Billion in the Black. Wait, What?

Good news everyone! In 2010, according to a recent accounting by the Office of Management and Budget (OMB), the bills Congress passed reduced the deficit by $64 billion over the next ten years. Surprised? Thought this past year featured massive deficit-financed bills? That’s because the scorecard, which OMB keeps as part of statutory Pay-As-You-Go (PAYGO), does not include hundreds of billions in spending. Congress essentially told OMB to ignore a few key pieces of legislation, which, if included in the calculation, would bring the year’s cost to $820 billion over ten years.

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Congress Once Again Punts on FY 2011 Budget

Surprising almost no one, on Tuesday Congress passed a short-term continuing resolution (CR), funding government for another few months and delaying passing a budget for the 2011 fiscal year. Over the past week or two, it became obvious that Democrats did not have enough votes to pass a year-long budget of some kind, either as a CR or as an omnibus.

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Congress Debates Multitude of Options for FY 2011 Budget and Food Safety

It’s been a while since we’ve checked in with the FY2011 budget, what with all the hullabaloo over deficit reports and the Bush tax cuts. But with the current continuing resolution (CR) set to expire on Saturday, Dec 18, and Congress planning to adjourn at the same time, we’re coming down to the wire. Almost three months after the start of the 2011 fiscal year, Congress is finally making some progress with passing a budget, but is faced with three options: an omnibus bill combining all twelve spending bills into one big bill, a full-year CR, or a short-term CR.

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Tell Congress: Don't Gut the Estate Tax!

As you could probably tell from our post on Tuesday, we think the recent compromise unnecessarily harms the estate tax, helping millionaires and making the tax code even more regressive.  But we need your help to convince Congress that gutting the estate tax is bad policy.  Below is a copy of an action alert we just sent out; if you didn't get it, please take a second to read through it and call your senators and representatives.  Tell them to fight for a strong estate tax!

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President’s Deficit Commission Releases Not-So-Great Final Proposal

At long last, after months of meetings and deliberation, the much-hyped National Commission on Fiscal Responsibility and Reform (the Deficit Commission) released its final report earlier today. Tasked by the President to slash the budget deficit by 2015, the Commission had until today to release a plan. If fourteen of the eighteen members of the Commission vote to approve it, the then-leaders of the House and Senate (Rep. Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) and Sen. Harry Reid (D-NV)) agreed to bring the plan up for a vote.

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