House Republicans Institute Dynamic Scoring; Waive Debt-Ceiling Votes

Included among its questionable first actions in the 108th Congress, the Republican-led House Ways and Means Committee made two new troubling rule changes that will govern House legislation around the federal budget.

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Continuing Resolution, Take 8

Last week the House and Senate Passed, and the President signed the eighth continuing resolution (CR) of the FY 2003 budget season. This CR will keep the federal government and the programs it funds going through January 31, 2003. Without the CR, there would be no funding for these programs and the government would be forced to shut down – an option no one wanted to serve as the opening to the 108th Congress last week. As discussed in previous issues of the Watcher, there are many problems for agencies trying to operate under a stream of CR’s, which only continue last year’s funding levels, with no increase for inflation. There is hope that this will be the last CR necessary for FY 2003, as many in Congress want to complete work on the remaining 11 appropriations bills by combining them into an omnibus appropriations bill – to allow them to move on to the FY 2004 budget.

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The New Round of Bush Tax Cuts--Inequitable, Ineffective and Costly

Bush’s new tax cuts, thinly disguised as an economic stimulus plan, fail every test – whether that of equity, economic stimulus, or responsible budgeting that addresses the nation’s needs. The only test that the Bush plan passes is that of making the President’s wealthier constituents richer while forcing diminished government services upon the rest of us.

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The Bush ?Economic Growth Plan?: Where's the Growth? Or the Fairness?

OMB Watch strongly opposes the President’s “Growth and Jobs Plan to Strengthen the American Economy” for a host of reasons. There is no question that the President’s plan is bold. But it is unlikely to provide an economic stimulus now, when it is so needed; it moves the country in the wrong direction over the long-term; and it will adversely affect services upon which Americans depend while doing nothing to increase economic growth and jobs.

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Why the Bush Plan is the Wrong Plan for US

This chart compares the Bush plan to the Democratic plans: the Baucus and Pelosi economic stimulus plans. To see what goes into a good economic stimulus plan, see this chart

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Economic Stimulus ? First, Do No Harm

An economic stimulus plan will be on the table early in the next Congress. Following is the tentative schedule. Given the sudden change in Senate leadership with Sen. Trent Lott’s (R-MS) resignation as Senate Majority Leader, there is a great deal of uncertainty about how the budget process will proceed next year, including issues of timing, number of reconciliation bills, and content. The next Watcher may contain a very different timetable.

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GAO Reports on Job Prospects of Former TANF Recipients with Impairments

A recent study conducted by the General Accounting Office (GAO) examined the job prospects of people leaving the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) program. Specifically, the study, shows that recipients of TANF “who had impairments were found to be half as likely to exit TANF as recipients without impairments…” Similar rates were seen among TANF recipients caring for children with impairments as those caring for children without impairments, even when factors such as marital status and age were taken into account. According to the GAO report, former TANF recipients with impairments are “one-third as likely as people without impairments to be employed,” with 40 percent of such former TANF recipients reporting Supplemental Security Income (SSI) assistance.

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It's the States' Turn

In the last year or so, we’ve seen some relatively large federal assistance provided to a few fairly large private industries. Last year, it was the $15 billion grant and loan package to “bailout” the airline industry after the September 11 attacks. At the time, it was seen as the prudent thing to do, since the federal government had grounded all flights for days until it could return some sense of security to the skies. White House Press Secretary Ari Fleischer explained that the assistance was necessary because "a safe, viable and effective commercial air travel system is important to America’s economy and to our way of life."

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Budget Schedule

The incoming Director of Budget and Appropriations Issues for Sen. Trent Lott (R-MS), G. William Hoagland, recently gave a briefing to states about the upcoming budget. Included in this piece are some points from that briefing and other reports, as well as a tentative schedule for completing work on the FY 2003 budget and beginning the FY 2004 budget work.

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Tax Cut Fever: What the Budget Future May Hold

With the shake-up in the Administration’s economic team, the recent rise in the unemployment rate to 6% (the highest rate in eight years), and absolutely no evidence that the massive Bush tax cut has done anything but send the federal budget on a rapid spiral into deficit, a reasonable person might think that it was time for the Administration to reevaluate the idea that tax cuts are the solution to everything. The President’s economic stimulus plan, currently in the design phase, however, is expected to consist of tax cuts aimed at corporations and individuals in the higher tax brackets.

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