Continuing Resolution, Part III

The House and Senate passed their third Continuing Resolution (CR) last Thursday, providing funding to keep the government operating through October 18. Passage of H.J. Res. 122 was required to prevent a government shutdown since none of the 13 annual appropriations necessary for federal programs to continue to operate has yet been enacted. It is anticipated that the Defense and Military Construction appropriations bills will be passed before a longer term CR is enacted.

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CBO Says 2002 Had Largest Percentage Drop in Federal Revenue in 50 Years

The Congressional Budget Office’s (CBO) Monthly Budget Review reports that the $137 billion drop in revenue for FY 2002 represents the largest one-year drop in 50 years. The combination of this reduction in revenue and the increase in spending in response to last year’s terrorist attacks, the increase in the unemployment rate, and steep increases in Medicaid costs amounted to a $157 billion deficit for FY 2002, which ended September 30. Though this return to a deficit represents a $254 billion turn-around from last year’s $127 billion surplus, the deficit is only 1.5 percent of GDP, a manageable size and a great deal smaller than the deficits of the mid-1980’s, which amounted to 6 percent of GDP. For an overview of CBO’s report on what happened to the surplus, see this OMB Watcher article.

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Alliance for Children and Families: National Family Week

The Alliance for Children and Families along with thousands of people across the United States will join together during the 32nd annual National Family Week, November 24-30. This nationwide awareness campaign recognizes strong families and children are at the center of strong communities. National Family Week is observed the week of Thanksgiving, a time when many families traditionally celebrate their connections with one another. Accordingly, the theme, Connections Count, embraces the premise that children live better lives when their families are strong; and families are strong when they live in communities that connect them to quality education, child care, employment opportunities, transportation, and other social investments within the communities where they live and work. Local events are being planned across the country, including family fun festivals, parades, balloon releases, Family Week awards, and art contests. For more information about how you can participate, visit www.nationalfamilyweek.org to download a free how-to guide or find an Alliance member near you.

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Too Much Spending? Or Not Enough?

Only 9 billion dollars separates the House and the Senate Budget Committee FY 2003 discretionary spending totals, but this small divide has been widened by continuing efforts to limit spending on domestic programs. Each of the budget proposals that has been put forth calls for reductions in this year’s real per capita spending from last year’s levels. Yet a recent analysis from the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities (CBPP) argues that we are nowhere near a discretionary “spending explosion,” in either domestic or military spending.

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SII September 2002 Chicago Meetings Participant Groups

Members of the following organizations and coalitions participated in the Social Investment Initiative's (SII) discussion groups in Chicago, IL, in September 2002.

For a summary of what SII learned at these meetings, see the Chicago Summary, which will be available on this site later this month.

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Appropriations Update

While timeliness has not been a hallmark of appropriations bills in recent years, this year is proving exceptionally slow. According to budget procedures, appropriations bills are supposed to be finished by June 30 to leave plenty of time to reconcile differences between the House and Senate before the new fiscal year, which starts October 1. But this year, not a single appropriations bill has been sent to the president, and neither house has completed action on all 13 appropriations bills.

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Budget Process Rules the Senate

As noted on these pages many times over the last few months, the Senate is unique in its traditions and rules. One feature that helped earn the Senate the title of the “world’s greatest deliberative body” is its rules that allow for, and even necessitate, policy debates, which are a vital part of the legislative process. These rules push the Senate to work out differences between conflicting legislative proposals and help ensure that the voice of the minority is protected. To extend this principle to tax and spending issues, the Senate has special rules.

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Estate Tax Update

Efforts to make the estate tax permanent continue in Congress. In the midst of all of the other issues facing the nation and the crowded congressional schedule, this shows how much importance conservatives attach to relieving the very wealthiest of Americans from paying taxes when they transfer their wealth.

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Increasing Poverty And More Uninsured In The US

The new U.S. Census Bureau publication “Poverty in the United States: 2001” shows an increase in poverty and a tie for the highest level of income inequality ever (if not a new record high, depending on the measures used). This should not be a surprise given the policies of the administration and the recent economic downturn.

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CBO 10-Year Budget Update Shows $5.6 Trillion Surplus Now Only $1.0 Trillion

The Congressional Budget Office’s (CBO) annual "Budget and Economic Outlook: An Update," released on August 27, reports federal budget deficits through the end of 2005 and a relatively modest 10-year total surplus and has added more fodder to the debate in Washington over who’s to blame for the $5.4 trillion drop in the 10-year surplus forecast since January 2001.

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