‘Line’ Items: Ghost Town Edition

Washington Empties Out – With both houses of Congress in recess and the president traveling, Washington feels deserted. The biggest news in DC is whether the Nats will sign Bryce Harper. Congress will return after Labor Day.

They’re Here (for a day) – The House did return briefly on Tuesday to approve $26.1 billion in state aid. The president signed the bill, which is fully offset, shortly afterwards.

Specter of Taxes Looms – Congress is poised to take up the heated debate over tax cuts that expire at the end of the year. The Joint Committee on Taxation estimated last week that extending the tax cuts for the wealthy would add $36 billion to the deficit next year. President Obama has proposed extending the tax cuts only for families making less than $250,000. The upcoming debate must also include the need for fundamental tax reform that addresses the country’s future fiscal needs.

Filling the Empty Seat at OMB – The Senate is expected to take up the nomination of Jacob Lew to replace Peter Orszag as OMB director shortly after it returns from recess.

Appropriations Apparitions? – A seat on the Appropriations Committee was once considered a plum assignment, allowing legislators to send pork back home. But now the ghosts of past practices may be coming back to haunt appropriators. The New York Times reports that in a time when voters are deeply concerned about the rising federal budget deficit, earmarks are decidedly unpopular and lawmakers are no longer being rewarded for steering federal money back home.

Will New CBO Numbers be Ghastly? – The CBO will release its summer update of its budget and economic outlook on Thursday.

Social Security Not Ready for the Graveyard Yet – Social Security celebrated its 75th Anniversary on Saturday. While the recent Trustees report indicates that the long-term outlook is bleak without action, the Bottom Line dedicated a blog series on the importance of the program and what can be done to strengthen it for future generations.