'Line' Items: After the Turkey Edition

Washington Still Has a Full Plate -- Congress returns this week from its Thanksgiving break as fiscal issues will jolt policymakers from their turkey-induced comas. A Tuesday meeting between President Obama and congressional leaders may shed some light on how Congress will proceed on matters such as the 2001/2003 tax cuts and fiscal year 2011 spending bills. And Wednesday may bring a proposal from the White House fiscal commission that will drive debate over the direction of U.S. fiscal policy.

Fiscal Commission Still Cooking -- The President's National Commission on Fiscal Responsibility and Reform faces a deadline of Wednesday to present a plan to reduce the federal budget deficit. If 14 of the 18 members of the panel agree on a proposal, then congressional leaders have agreed to consider it this year.

Plans Keep Coming -- Like the endless streams of turkey, fiscal plans continue to be placed before us. Last week the Cato Institute offered its ideas to cut spending and today the Our Fiscal Security initiative offered a plan. You can create your own plan using CRFB's "Stabilize the Debt" simulator.

Is the Message Sinking In? -- A recent Rasmussen poll indicates that all the attention paid to rising deficits and debt during the election had an effect on the electorate, allowing voters to understand the issue a bit better. Perhaps, like that cornbread stuffing, the message about our fiscal challenge is sticking with us.

Marking Lines on Earmarks -- The Senate is expected to vote today on an amendment to a food safety bill that would ban earmarks for three years. The amendment will have a tough time passing since it will require 67 votes. As we said before, earmark reform represents a symbolic step, but alone will not significantly reduce the deficit. The Peterson-Pew Commission on Budget Reform provided detailed recommendations for reforming the budget process in the recent report, Getting Back in the Black.