Line Items: Game of Thrones Returns Edition

It’s Back – The long wait finally ended on Sunday as the HBO hit series "Game of Thrones" debuted its third season, gratifying those who have longed for the intrigue, action and, ahem, certain other pleasures of the show. Congress returns next week, with plenty of intrigue, but lacking the other stuff. Immigration and gun control will be high on the agenda, but the federal budget and national debt will also continue to occupy center stage with the release of the President’s budget and more outreach to Congress to work towards a debt deal. In the show's season premiere, Sansa Stark offered some insight that may explain why the issue has been difficult to address, “the truth is always either terrible or boring.” It can sure seem that way with the debt. There is no easy solution and the details can get quite tedious, but it won’t go away on its own. Hopefully, it won’t take White Walkers to spur action.

Budget Is Coming – The White House confirmed that it will release its Fiscal Year 2014 budget request on April 10, more than two months after it was due by law. The White House says the fiscal cliff drama at the end of last year delayed the process. That evening the President will also sit down for dinner with Republican senators as part of his congressional outreach to get a bipartisan "grand bargain."

Pieces to a Deal Emerge – Getting a debt deal has appeared to be harder than reuniting the Seven Kingdoms of Westeros, but all is not lost; encouraging signs remain. Reports are that President Obama will offer some entitlement reforms in his budget that can acheive bipartisan support, possibly a fix to how inflation is measured known as the chained CPI. This comes as some Republicans like Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) have expressed a willingness to accept some increased revenue from closing tax loopholes known as tax expenditures in exchange for savings from entitlements. Read more about switching to Chained CPI here and some tax expenditure reform ideas here and here.

Tax Reform Marches On – Like Robb Stark's army, tax reform continues to move forward. Senate Finance Committee chair Max Baucus (D-MT) remains committed to fundamental reform and is convinced he can get a bipartisan deal that lowers tax rates and the deficit. Meanwhile, the RATE Coalition sent a letter to Baucus and other tax-writing committee leaders calling for corporate tax reform that makes the U.S. more internationally competitive. Yet, some businesses are wary of reform that will get rid of tax breaks they enjoy. You can create your own corporate tax reform plan using our tool.

Deese Tapped as Hand to the OMB – President Obama recently announced that he will nominate White House economic adviser Brian Deese to be deputy director of the Office of Management and Budget (OMB), which is responsible for preparing the federal budget.

Key Upcoming Dates (all times are ET)

April 5

  • Dept. of Labor's Bureau of Labor Statistics releases March 2013 employment data.

April 10 

  • The White House is expected to release its FY 2014 budget request.

April 15

  • Congress must pass a concurrent budget resolution as specified in the Congressional Budget Act.
  • Tax Day! Federal tax returns due by this date.

April 16

  • Dept. of Labor's Bureau of Labor Statistics releases March 2013 Consumer Price Index data.

April 26

  • Bureau of Economic Analysis releases advance estimate of 2013 1st quarter GDP.

May 3

  • Dept. of Labor's Bureau of Labor Statistics releases April 2013 employment data.

May 16

  • Dept. of Labor's Bureau of Labor Statistics releases April 2013 Consumer Price Index data.

May 19

  • The debt limit is re-instated at an increased amount to account for debt issued between the signing of the suspension bill and this date. After re-instatement, the Treasury Department will be able to use "extraordinary measures" to put off the date the government hits the debt limit potentially for a few months.

May 30

  • Bureau of Economic Analysis releases second estimate of 2013 1st quarter GDP.