OMB Watch Releases Analysis of Bush FY 08 Budget Request

During the week of Feb. 5, OMB Watch issued a multipart analysis of President George W. Bush's Fiscal Year 2008 budget request to Congress. In an overview of the president's budget, OMB Watch examined the overall impact of the request and found that it puts tax cuts ahead of domestic needs. The budget uses gimmicks and omissions to mask the true impact of the president's proposals and allows him to project an artificially balanced budget.

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President Rehashes Tired Old Budget Process Reform Proposals

The Analytical Perspectives portion of President Bush's proposed budget includes a section that outlines seven budget process reform proposals. Six of them are updated versions of proposals from previous years, while one is new, covering earmark reform.

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Congress Can Shape War Policy through Appropriations Process

President Bush's plan to increase troop levels in Iraq has stirred up debate recently over the extent to which Congress can direct war policy. While some have gone so far as to suggest that Congress has the authority to do no more than make symbolic statements, in truth, the appropriations process gives Congress significant — albeit restricted — power to shape the course of war policy.

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Senate Passes New Rules on Earmark Disclosure

The Senate on Jan. 18 passed a comprehensive lobbying and ethics reform bill — S. 1, the Legislative Transparency and Accountability Act of 2007 — that included an overhauled earmark disclosure rule. After nearly two weeks of floor debate featuring reversals, stalemates, and a brief filibuster, the Senate voted 96-2 to pass the bill, widening the definition of earmarks and increasing their public disclosure requirements. S. 1 must be passed by the House and signed by the president before any of it, including the Senate rules changes, can take effect.

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Congress Commits More Time to Doing Its Job

After one of the shortest legislative sessions on record, the 110th Congress has scheduled substantially more days in session for 2007. Hoping to avoid the "do-nothing" label that haunted the 109th Congress, Democratic leaders are hoping the additional time will not only allow for the adoption of their initial "100 hours" agenda, but also the timely completion of all appropriations bills before the start of the next fiscal year. Despite the additional days in session, however, it may still be difficult for Democrats to enact their priorities.

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Will Congress Stick with PAYGO?

On Jan. 5, the House took a significant step in the direction of fiscal responsibility, adopting pay-as-you-go (PAYGO) budget rules by a 280-152 margin. PAYGO rules bar consideration of legislation including tax cuts or entitlement expansions that would have the net effect of increasing the deficit. While a necessary step toward putting the country back on the right fiscal path, PAYGO rules may make fulfilling the policy goals of the new Democratic Congress significantly more difficult to achieve.

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House Begins Session with New Process Rules

On Jan. 5, the House approved new rules covering civility, legislative process and fiscal responsibility, the second of two rules packages in as many days that the Democrats passed since taking over the chamber. The new rules should help restore some transparency, fiscal responsibility and fairness to the legislative process in the House and represent an important first step in restoring faith in the congressional process. But further reforms are still warranted.

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Lame Duck Session Holds Little Hope for Appropriations Bills

The congressional lame duck session resumed Dec. 5 as the 109th Congress returned to work on a set of long-deferred tax and budget items. However, Congress will likely postpone action on the bulk of these issues until the next session and quickly pass a continuing resolution (CR) that will last until early 2007.

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Same Old Congress, Same Old Budgetary Gridlock: Long-Term CR Likely in December

Congress has made very little progress toward being able to finally adjourn for the year, leaving most of their appropriations work, a set of popular tax breaks, and funding problems in the State Children’s Health Insurance Program still unaddressed. With time running out, Congress will probably pass another extension of a budget-cutting continuing resolution, once again neglecting its duty to enact the annual spending bills.

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A Fiscal Policy Review of the 109th Congress

With just a few short post-election, lame-duck weeks left, the 109th Congress will leave behind a legacy of woefully inadequate action on fiscal policy. With a set of fiscal challenges that included the need for comprehensive tax reform, concerns over Social Security insolvency, large and growing deficits, the 109th Congress' list of accomplishments is almost non-existent.

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