‘Line’ Items: Football Edition

Kick-off Time – Football season got underway this weekend, and the final legislative drive before the mid-term elections also commences this week. The elections will loom over the work of lawmakers as they return to work for a short period before adjourning in October, making major breakthroughs unlikely. But stranger things have happened (like the Redskins winning).

Small Biz Bill in the Red Zone – The Senate is expected tomorrow to resume work on a bill (HR 5297) to aid small businesses that includes a lending fund and tax breaks. With Senator George Voinovich (R-OH) saying he no longer will support a filibuster, it looks like the legislation will have the 60 votes needed to move forward. While the package is technically paid for, CRFB previously took issue with one of the offsets. We hope Congress will include gimmick-free offsets that do not add to the long-term debt.

Waiting for the Play on Tax Cuts – Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) has promised a Senate debate on extending the 2001/2003 tax cuts this month, yet is unlikely that Congress will complete work until after the election. In the meantime, players are lining up on both sides of this political football. Some Democrats are reportedly sending a letter to House leaders asking them to call a new play on the tax cuts, rejecting the White House proposal to extend the cuts only for families making less than $250,000 and instead extending them for all taxpayers. Calls for a temporary extension have grown louder since former OMB Director Peter Orszag recommended such an idea last week. But CRFB warned in a blog Friday that the second part of Orszag’s suggestion was to let all the cuts lapse after the two-year extension expires.

Lew Hearings Set for This Week – The man tapped to be the administration’s new budget quarterback will have his confirmation hearings this week. The Senate Budget and Homeland Security and Government Affairs committees will hold hearings on Thursday on the nomination of Jacob Lew to be the new director of the Office of Management and Budget. The hearings will no doubt provide a lot of posturing and finger-pointing over the budget outlook.

No Rush on Appropriations – Neither chamber is expected to make much movement on the FY 2011 spending bills. Instead, a continuing resolution is expected before the new fiscal year begins on October 1.