Budget talks, maybe… Long-term fiscal trouble, most likely.

You never know until you ask. Testifying before the House Budget Committee on Friday, OMB Director Sylvia Burwell said she’s willing to talk about further adjusting spending caps. She was responding to panel chair Paul Ryan’s (R-WI) call for increased defense spending. But Rep. Kevin Brady, (R-TX), co-chair of the Joint Economic Committee, seemed to wave off any conversation. The Hill reports “Brady said that given the amount of work left to do on tax reform, including soliciting feedback on draft plan from Ways and Means Chairman Dave Camp (R-Mich.), an infrastructure deal using tax reform revenue is not going to happen.”

That bitter pill is waiting. In the latest installment of their regular fiscal update, TPC’s Bill Gale and Alan Auerbach of UC Berkeley find some short-term improvement in the nation’s fiscal health, but conclude long-term deficits remain an ongoing problem.  The cure remains, as ever, lower  spending or higher  taxes—also known as: shared sacrifice.

Location, location, location. Do you itemize? Chances are you’re taking much bigger deductions if you live in a higher-cost, coastal city, than if you live in the heartland. TPC’s Ben Harris drills down into the data at the county level, and finds wide variation. “In 10 percent of counties, taxpayers itemized an average of $16,640 or less, while in another 10 percent they deducted an average of $22,990 or more. In about 1 percent, taxpayers deducted an average in excess of $35,020.” Learn about itemizers by county with this interactive map.

Home is where some businesses are. The IRS reminds filers with a home-based business that there’s a simpler way to claim the home office deduction on their 2013 taxes. Home-based businesses have been on the rise, and their workforce tends to be well-educated with higher than average incomes. Wonder how many of them are in those rich counties?

Can Congress  boost job growth, reduce inequality and increase opportunity? Senate Finance Committee Chair Ron Wyden (D-OR) will ask in a hearing this Thursday, billed as “Innovative Ideas to Strengthen and Expand the Middle Class.” TPC’s Len Burman will share the panel with George Packer of The New Yorker, William Dunkelberg of the National Federation of Independent Business, Diane Swonk of Mesirow Financial, and Lawrence Lindsey of The Lindsey Group. Stay tuned to TPC for Burman’s testimony after it’s delivered.

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