‘Line’ Items: Kick Off Edition

Are You Ready for Some (Political) Football? – Football season got underway this weekend with hard-hitting action and thrilling finishes. Additionally, the Super Committee kicks off its work in earnest this week. The games on Capitol Hill are no less fierce than those on the gridiron, but how it all ends is still in question. There are more twists and turns to the budget drama than there are GOP presidential debates (there was another last night). Meanwhile, policymakers are trying to play offense with the economy while defending against the growing national debt. The Super Committee holds its first hearing today with growing calls for members to “go big” and recommend more than the $1.5 trillion in deficit reduction it was charged with finding. With some doubting that the Super Committee will agree on $1.5 trillion in savings, is it realistic to ask for more? Well, if the Redskins can dominate the Giants, anything is possible.

Obama Goes Deep on Jobs Plan – President Obama announced his plan to boost the economy and add jobs last week before a joint session of Congress, and yesterday he formally sent the legislative proposal to Congress for consideration. The plan, which includes extending the payroll tax holiday, creating a national infrastructure bank, and repairing and modernizing schools and transportation infrastructure, will cost $447 billion. OMB Director Jacob Lew says the plan will be offset by limiting tax breaks for those earning more than $200,000 a year and by cutting oil and gas subsidies. Reducing and eliminating tax expenditures is an idea that has gained support on both sides of the aisle (see more on the topic here and here).

Will Super Committee “Go Big” on Deficit Reduction? – President Obama is asking the Joint Select Committee on Deficit Reduction (aka Super Committee) to go beyond the $1.5 trillion in deficit reduction it is mandated to recommend in order to pay for his jobs plan (the White House will release a detailed plan next Monday). A growing chorus of others is also asking the committee to “go big” and go beyond $1.5 trillion. Yesterday, CRFB convened a press conference with White House Fiscal Commission co-chairs Erskine Bowles and Alan Simpson to release a letter from over 60 economists, business leaders, former policymakers and fiscal experts calling for the committee to go big. Many members of Congress also support going big. The committee holds it first hearing Tuesday with CBO Director Doug Elmendorf.

Appropriators Finally Moving the Ball, but the Clock is Ticking – While the Senate Appropriations Committee approved of three spending bills – Agriculture, Energy-Water, and Homeland Security – as well as the 302(b) allocations, lawmakers are also preparing a continuing resolution, recognizing that Congress will not pass all 12 FY 2012 spending bills before the new fiscal year begins on October 1. Once again, it looks like Congress will drop the ball on passing a budget in time.

Key Upcoming Dates

September 13

  • The Super Committee holds its first public hearing at 10:30 am on the history and drivers of our debt and its threat.
  • House Oversight Committee hearing on the president's jobs plan at 10 am.
  • Senate Finance Committee Fiscal Responsibility and Economic Growth Subcommittee hearing examining whether there is a role for tax reform in comprehensive deficit reduction and U.S. fiscal policy at 2:00 pm.
  • Federal budget for August released by Treasury Department.

September 14

  • House Budget Committee hearing on "The Need for Pro-Growth Tax Reform" at 10 am.
  • Senate Finance Committee hearing on tax reform options involving marginal rates, capital gains and dividends at 10 am.

September 15

  • Senate Budget Committee hearing on "Policy Prescriptions for the Economy" at 9:30 am.
  • Senate Finance Committee hearing on tax reform options that enhance retirement security at 10 am.
  • House Speaker John Boehner gives jobs policy address to the Economic Club of Washington.
  • Consumer Price Index for August released by Labor Department.

September 22

  • 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.