Below are the recurring reports we've published since 2009. These papers summarize and analyze the most important regular federal budget releases and reports.
Analysis of CBO's Budget and Economic Outlook
The Congressional Budget Office's Budget and Economic Outlook projects trends for spending and revenue for the next 10-years. All legislation is estimated as to how it would change these projections.
CBO's Long-Term Budget Outlook
The Congressional Budget Office takes a longer view, focusing on budget trends over the next 25 or 75 years.
Social Security Trustees Report
The Social Security Trustees release an annual report on the health of the Social Security system.
Analysis of the President's Budget
CBO Analysis of the President's Budget
Other Helpful Items
Appropriations are annual decisions made by Congress about how the federal government spends some of its money. In general, the appropriations process addresses the discretionary portion of the budget – spending ranging from national defense to food safety to education to federal employee salaries, but excludes mandatory spending, such as Medicare and Social Security, which is spent automatically according to formulas.
Reconciliation is a special legislative process created as part of the Budget Act of 1974. It is intended to help lawmakers make the tax and mandatory spending changes necessary to meet the levels proposed in the congressional budget resolution. Our 101 provides the answers to questions such as "how do reconciliation instructions work?" or "what is the Byrd rule?" as well as explaining the implications of using reconciliation for Obamacare repeal or tax reform.
Congressional Budget Office reports show that our debt remains on an unsustainable path, (see our ongoing blog series) and is projected to be $1.7 trillion higher by 2024 than we previously thought. Despite the dismal fiscal picture, Congress may be considering measures to worsen the deficit, and covering their tracks with so-called "budget gimmicks." We released a chartbook, "Avoiding Budget Gimmicks," which explains and illustrates several of the tricks and slights of hand that policymakers may use to avoid identifying genuine offsets and payfors.
“The sequester” is an across-the-board spending cut designed in 2011 to force the Joint Select Committee on Deficit Reduction (“Supercommittee”) to agree on a broad deficit reduction package. Upon the failure of the Supercommittee, the sequester set into motion $109 billion of annual spending cuts each year from Fiscal Year 2013 (FY2013) through FY2021. The sequester cuts began in March of 2013 after being delayed two months by the fiscal cliff legislation (and having the FY2013 cut lessened by $24 billion).
The Tax Break-Down, which analyzes and review tax breaks under discussion as part of tax reform.
This year, Congress made it a priority to pass a concurrent budget resolution. Both the House of Representatives and Senate passed their own budget plans at the end of March, and now they must work through the differences in the two budgets through a budget conference committee. This week, both chambers began the process and appointed conferees to serve on the committee. Below, we explain how this budget conference will work, and what it intends to accomplish.
As part of the bipartisan deal to end the government shutdown and avoid default, a budget conference was established. The purpose of this conference is to reconcile the House and Senate budget resolutions passed earlier this year, and optimally reach an agreement on government funding levels and how to set the country on a fiscally sustainable long-term path.
Currently, the national debt held by the public is over $13 trillion, which is around 74 percent of the country’s economy, as measured by Gross Domestic Product (GDP). The gross debt, which includes money owed to other parts of the federal government, is over $18 trillion, or roughly 103 percent of GDP. Throughout history, the United States has normally maintained some amount of debt. However, with the exception of a brief period during and immediately after World War II, debt levels have never been as high as they are now. Without congressional action, debt levels will continue increasing.
It’s déjà vu all over again, again – Congress seems to be ignoring the gathering fiscal storm clouds. The most immediate of these is just around the corner: if lawmakers do not pass legislation to fund federal programs by September 30, the government will shut down.
Attention is turning towards raising the federal debt ceiling, which will be reinstated after February 7th. At that point, the limit will be about $17.3 trillion, according to estimates from the Bipartisan Policy Center. At that time, the Treasury Department would have to begin use of a limited amount of accounting tools at their disposal, called extraordinary measures, to avoid defaulting on their obligations. However, even with such measures, the Treasury Department estimates that they will only be able to continue paying the nation’s bills until late February, by which point the debt ceiling would need to be raised. The following is a short primer on the debt ceiling and on the ways to responsibly address it while also dealing with unsustainable federal borrowing going forward.
While failing to increase the debt ceiling would be dangerous and self-defeating, it would also be a mistake not to use this opportunity to address the country’s mounting debt burden. To that end, President Obama and leaders of both chambers of Congress engaged in high-level negotiations in the hopes of agreeing on a deficit reduction package to attach to any debt ceiling increase.