MY VIEW: Bill Frenzel

It's the dog days of August and with Congress in recess, we can do nothing but wait to resolve some of the upcoming fiscal challenges that lie ahead. We have made some progress, particularly in beginning to seriously discuss tax reform, but overall, there is a still a tremendous amount of work that remains to be done in the fall.

Today in Forbes, CRFB board member and former Congressman Bill Frenzel (R-MN) expresses his disappointment with the effort so far:

Just like in the stables, when the job is not done, work begins to pile up. The debt ceiling which reached its limit in May, has been postponed by clever manipulations at Treasury, but it will bite us sometime in the 4th quarter. No progress has been made there. Indeed, other than public statements of no concessions, the matter has hardly been discussed.

September 30 is the deadline for financing the government for Fiscal Year 2014. In its budget, the Senate dismissed the sequester. The House budget etched it in stone. There have been no real efforts to negotiate the differences yet.

No appropriations bills have been enacted, so another set of continuing resolutions will have to suffice, but the same budget differences  must be negotiated there. Perhaps the appropriators will be better negotiators than the budgeteers, but there is no evidence of that yet.

The sequester poses a similar, but slightly different, problem. Both parties, and nearly all the policy makers, believe it is a thoughtless way to cut expenses. There is general agreement that it must be modified, but no agreement as to how. The Senate insists on wishing it away. The House demands that the total spending reductions be maintained and that other cuts be substituted for the unwise “meat-axe” approach.

Frenzel goes as far to say that a small deal will be the best possible outcome this fall. That might be too pessimistic, as there have been some signs that the leadership in Washington still sees a grand bargain as a real possibility. And as we showed last week, even a "mini deal" would contain some long-term savings and thus be a better option than one year of sequestration if lawmakers should fall short. Still, our long-term problem demands tax and entitlement reform, which will only get harder the longer we wait. Washington should heed the wake up call from Frenzel.

Click here to read the full piece.

"My Views" are works published by members of the Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget, but they do not necessarily reflect the views of all members of the committee.

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