‘Line’ Items: Game On Edition

Game Time – NASCAR has begun its chase for the championship, baseball’s pennant race is under way, the deficit super committee is deliberating and we now have a budget plan from the White House. Its “Game on!” Will it be like the playoffs and some will go big while others go home?

White House Releases Deficit Game Plan – President Obama released his long-awaited deficit reduction blueprint Monday. The president rhetorically supported a “Go Big” approach to deficit reduction, as CRFB lauded in a statement, by proposing a plan the White House claims will reduce the deficit by over $4 trillion, which exceeds the congressional super committee’s mandate of recommending $1.5 trillion in deficit savings over the next decade. However, in reality the amount of savings is less than $2 trillion. CRFB pointed out in a blog post that “Go Medium” is a more apt description of the proposal. The plan has many good ideas that the super committee can draw from, but CRFB believes we must go farther. More analysis from CRFB will be forthcoming.

Super Committee Gets the Ball Rolling – The Joint Select Committee on Deficit Reduction (known as the “super committee”) held its first public hearing last week with CBO Director Douglas Elmendorf providing testimony on the history and drivers of the national debt. Several committee members, including Rep. Chris Van Hollen (D-MD) and Sen. John Kerry (D-MA), called on the committee to “go big” in reducing the deficit. The group had a private meeting over breakfast last Thursday and has another public hearing scheduled for this coming Thursday on revenue options and tax reform.

Leaders Join the Go Big Team – Last week over 60 economists, former policymakers and budget experts signed a letter to the super committee asking it to go big and go beyond its $1.5 trillion deficit reduction mandate. The letter was released at a press conference featuring White House Fiscal Commission co-chairs Erskine Bowles and Alan Simpson. A bipartisan group of 38 senators followed suit with a statement of principles also calling for the super committee to go big.

Lots of Tax Reform Plays Being Called – The Subcommittee on Fiscal Responsibility and Economic Growth of the Senate Finance Committee held a hearing last week on tax reform featuring heavy hitters such as former Federal Reserve Chair Alan Greenspan, former Michigan Governor John Engler and prominent economists John Taylor and Martin Feldstein. Reforming tax expenditures figured prominently in the discussion. See more on the subject here, here and here.

Key Upcoming Dates

September 20

  • Senate Budget Committee hearing on promoting job creation at 9:30 am.
  • Senate Finance Committee hearing on tax reform options to promote innovation at 10 am.
  • Joint Economic Committee hearing on "What is the Real Debt Limit" at 10 am.

September 21

  • House Budget Committee hearing on "The Broken Budget Process: Perspectives from Former CBO Directors" at 10 am.
  • IMF releases report on global financial stability.

September 22

  • Joint Select Committee on Deficit Reduction (Super Committee) hearing on revenue options and tax reform at 10 am.
  • House Budget Committee hearing on "The Broken Budget Process: Perspectives from Former Members of Congress" at 10 am.
  • Second GOP presidential debate in Florida.

October 1

  • New fiscal year begins. Legislation fully funding the federal government, or a stopgap measure with temporary financing of government operations, must be enacted by this date.

October 11

  • GOP presidential debate in New Hampshire.

October 14

  • Congressional committees must submit any recommendations to the Super Committee by this date.

October 18

  • GOP presidential debate in Nevada.

November 23

  • The Super Committee is required to vote on a report and legislative language recommending deficit reduction policies by this date.

December 2

  • The Super Committee report and legislative language must be transmitted to the president and congressional leaders by this date.

December 9

  • Any congressional committee that gets a referral of the Super Committee bill must report the bill out with any recommendation, but no amendments, by this date.

December 23

  • Congress must vote on the bill recommended by the Super Committee by this date. No amendments are allowed.