Deficit Commission Line-Up Completed

When House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) named her picks to sit on the president's National Commission on Fiscal Responsibility and Reform (or, just "the Deficit Commission" or "the Debt Commission"), she rounded out the 18-member slate.

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CTJ Shows Tax Proposals in Rep. Ryan's 'Roadmap' Lead to Disaster

Luckily, No One was Hurt...

In a report released yesterday, Citizens for Tax Justice (CTJ) critically examine the tax policies proposed recently in Rep. Paul Ryan's (R-WI) budget alternative, conventionally titled, "A Roadmap for America's Future." Claims of the proposal "balancing the budget" and "reforming entitlements" have already been thoroughly debunked, but CTJ has contributed a valuable analysis of the young Republican's tax policies, which will actually cost the government "$2 trillion over a decade even while requiring 90 percent of taxpayers to pay more" than they already do in taxes.

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Bunning and Co. Jerk American Workers Around

The Puppet Master

At the end of last week, Sen. Jim Bunning (R-KY) and the Senate Republican caucus decided to take a stand on government spending by demanding that Congress offset an important tax extenders bill. The bill, which, among other things, sought to extend eligibility for unemployment benefits, COBRA premium assistance, a Medicare doctors' fix, and highway funding, failed to pass because of the GOP's intransigence. While offsetting spending is a sensible policy, this was hardly the appropriate moment to make a point on the issue, as blockage of the extension bill will likely have serious consequences for both jobless Americans and our weak, recovering economy.

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This Week in Deficit Hawks

Sen. Joe Lieberman (I-CT)

On Thursday, Sen. Joe Lieberman (I-CT), in an attempt to become more "relevant," held a hearing in search of fiscal remedies to the country's growing $12 trillion debt. Rather than provide a platform for exploring different options, though, Lieberman lined up witnesses to trumpet a special congressional commission that could railroad budget "solutions" through Congress. Lieberman, along with several of his hearing witnesses, has joined a small but vocal choir of deficit-hawk-converts that are demanding the government address budget shortfalls immediately, seemingly without regard to current fiscal circumstances.

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Congress Looks to Insert Itself into the Debt *Problem*

He'll save the children, but not the British children

Ugh oh, a recent article in National Journal (subscription required) quotes several members of Congress, including Senate Budget Chair Sen. Kent Conrad (D-ND) and Rep. Frank Wolf (R-VA), expressing strong interest in the creation of a bi-partisan debt-reduction commission with binding recommendation powers to Congress. It seems Conrad, Wolf, and other budget hawks see the administration's need to raise the debt ceiling as the perfect opportunity to press for the creation of such a body. While there's nothing wrong with a debt commission per se, I find the timing and details of this scheme troubling for a number of reasons.

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Two Conferences on Debt, One Proclaims Debt Good, the Other Declares Debt Bad

The New America Foundation

I should mention that the first conference – sponsored by the New America Foundation on Tuesday – discussed the merits of short-term deficit spending in the midst of a recession, while the second academic panel – held yesterday and sponsored by the Peterson-Pew Commission on Budget Reform – discussed the mountainous mid- to long-term debt anticipated with the looming entitlement crisis. The distinction is important, yet often lost in discussions of deficits and debt.

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CBO Jumps to 20-Year Budget Window for Health Care

There is an interesting article ($) in CQ this morning about a possible change in forecasting techniques used by the Congressional Budget Office (CBO). Sen. Kent Conrad (D-ND), Chairman of the Senate Budget Committee, announced on Monday that CBO would likely provide cost estimates for the forthcoming Senate health care reform bill beyond the standard 10-year budget window - extending that window to 20 years.

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Experts Foresee Disturbing Trend out of Recent Census Data

Brookings Institution

With yesterday's release of the Census Bureau's report on income, poverty, and health insurance coverage for Americans in 2008, most economists and analysts agree that while the numbers are bad, next year's numbers will be worse and that trend could continue for a number of years.

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The CBO's Semi-Regular Social Security Update

The Congressional Budget Office (CBO) released its latest figures on the long-term finances of Social Security. 

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UPDATE: House Passes Statutory PAYGO Legislation 265-166

CongressJust a quick update on the House's effort to reinstate Pay-As-You-Go (PAYGO) legislation. The full House passed H.R. 2920 this afternoon by a 265-166 vote. 24 Republicans joined with 241 Democrats to pass the bill by a pretty wide margin. Only 13 Democrats opposed the legislation.


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