Congress Says "No" to Extending Unemployment Benefits

The 107th Congress officially adjourned on Friday, November 22, and, in doing so, squashed the last chance unemployed workers had this year to secure a needed additional extension of their unemployment benefits. The extension of these benefits will expire on December 28.

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A Dismal Outlook for Domestic Spending

Congress officially adjourned last Friday, after passing its seventh Continuing Resolution (CR) of the year. This CR, H.J. 124, was necessary to provide the funding to keep government running because Congress was unable to pass 11 of the 13 appropriations bills for FY 2003, which began on October 1, 2002. This CR funds departments and programs at their FY 2002 levels through January 11. It appears there will be an effort to pass the FY 2003 appropriations before the President’s State of the Union address, so at least one more CR will be necessary.

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Republicans Seek to Make Bush Tax Cuts Permanent

While Republicans seem to have at least temporarily backed off efforts to pass new and costly tax cuts, including a reduction in the capital gains tax, there is renewed talk about making permanent the Bush tax cut, which is slated to expire at the end of 2010.

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U.S. Treasury Releases FY 2002 Deficit Numbers

On Friday, October 25, Treasury Secretary Paul O’Neill and Office of Management and Budget (OMB) Director Mitchell Daniels released the Treasury Department’s summary of the budget results for fiscal year 2002, which ended September 30. According to this report, FY 2002 closed with a $159 billion deficit -- $2 billion larger than the $157 billion the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) predicted in its Monthly Review earlier this month.

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"PART" And The Federal Budget

There has been little public or media attention to the “Program Assessment Performance Tool” (PART) developed by the Office of Management and Budget (OMB), even though its explicit and primary purpose is to evaluate and tie program “performance” to budget appropriations. OMB Is also taking this effort very seriously. Why this sudden renewed attention to “government performance?”

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Senate Passes Temporary Extension of 60-Vote Rules

By Unanimous Consent, the Senate passed a 6-month extension of its expiring "supermajority" 60-vote point of order rules late Wednesday, October 16.

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"Bi-Partisan" Economic Summit A Good Start, But We Need Much More

The Democratic Policy Committee (DPC) hosted an economic forum on October 11. Subtitled “Securing Our Economic Future,” it was billed as an attempt to offer a bi-partisan discussion of and debate about the issues underlying the nation’s economic woes. Though the point was clearly made that no Republican Members of Congress accepted the DPC’s invitation, the forum’s first panel was comprised not only of former members of Clinton’s Council of Economic Advisors, but also a former Associate Director for economics in President Reagan’s Office of Management and Budget and a former economic advisor to House Majority Leader Dick Armey (R-TX).

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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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