Line Items: Service Edition

Answering the Call – Today is the federal government's observance of Veterans Day, the day the nation honors those who have served in the armed forces. CRFB salutes and thanks all veterans for their service. We hope our elected leaders and the rest of us can be inspired by the example of our veterans and strive to serve as best we can to make this nation stronger. This message is particularly timely as Congress returns to Washington this week to face a number of matters, the most high-profile being the fiscal cliff. Ahead of the holiday, some veterans pleaded for action to fix the debt in an op-ed last week. Will lawmakers answer this call to service to address the fiscal cliff and the long-term debt issue?

Serving Notice on the Debt – Exit polls of the electorate last week indicated that deficits/debt is a top issue for voters. Of course, the economy remains the top concern, but the two issues are closely linked. The dip in the markets last week as investors expressed concerns about the looming fiscal cliff underscores how decisions regarding fiscal policy will affect the economy and vice versa.

Public Service Announcements – Americans want policymakers to cut through the noise and find solutions, which is why over 300,000 of them have signed the Citizen’s Petition to Fix the Debt. As policymakers squabble, the debt continues to rise. With over $16 trillion in gross debt and counting, action is becoming more critical. You can download a debt clock widget here.

Return of Service – Politicians have been kicking the debt can down the road for quite some time. Now the can is looking for payback. A Millennial-led campaign called The Can Kicks Back formally launches today. The campaign will mobilize young Americans to demand that elected leaders achieve a bipartisan, comprehensive and long-term deficit reduction plan by July 4, 2013.

Served on a Silver Platter – As lawmakers act like children in refusing to play nice, grade-schoolers are providing lessons on how to put policy over politics. A seventh-grader in Atlanta, Georgia has developed some constructive ideas for addressing the fiscal situation and put them on his own blog. Congress, you’ve been served.

Serving Up Cooperation on the Fiscal Cliff? – After a divisive election cycle, both the President and congressional leaders signaled they were willing to compromise to get a deal to avoid the fiscal cliff at the end of the year. Taxes will be a major issue to overcome, as Democrats want to raise taxes on the wealthy while Republicans are against raising tax rates. However, there are possible avenues for agreement regarding tax expenditures.

Non-Stop Service – President Obama will be busy this week as he has separate meetings with labor, business, congressional and civic leaders. He will also hit the road to garner public support for his approach to addressing the fiscal cliff.

Serving Lawmakers and Budget Wonks Since 1974 – Adding to the pressure to act, last week the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office (CBO) continued its tradition of producing timely budget analysis by releasing a report saying that the fiscal cliff would hurt the economy and increase unemployment if allowed to take effect. CBO also released another report outlining the choices for reducing the deficit.

Key Upcoming Dates (all times are ET)

November 13

  • House and Senate due to convene for lame duck session
  • White House meeting with labor union and progressive leaders on the deficit, economy and fiscal cliff

November 14

  • White House meeting with business leaders on the deficit, economy and fiscal cliff
  • White House press conference

November 15

  • Consumer Price Index data for October released

November 16

  • White House meeting with bipartisan congressional leaders on the deficit ,economy and fiscal cliff
  • White House meeting with civic leaders on the deficit, economy and fiscal cliff

November 29

  • Second estimate of third quarter GDP figures released

December 7

  • Unemployment statistics for the month of November released

December 14

  • Consumer Price Index data for November released

December 20

  • Third estimate of third quarter GDP figures released

January 1, 2013

  • The "fiscal cliff" occurs, including the expiration of the 2001/2003/2010 tax cuts and across the board spending cuts the following day

January 4

  • Unemployment statistics for the month of December released

January 16

  • Consumer Price Index data for December released

January 21

  • President Obama publicly sworn in for his second term (a private swearing in will occur on Sunday the 20th, the technical inauguration date)

January 30

  • Advance estimate of fourth quarter GDP figures released