Archive for the ‘Budget’ Category

The Cruel Political Paradox of Deficit Reduction

I was chatting the other day with a fellow budget wonk who noted the cruel paradox of fiscal politics: When the economy is bad, deficits rise and the public support for reducing them grows. Yet a poor economy is the worst possible time to raise taxes and cut spending. By contrast, a period of strong growth […]

Federal Job Cuts Are Not Just Biting Inside the Beltway

Government employment is down again. But while cuts in state and local jobs drove the decline in 2011 and 2012, the federal government is the culprit now. The federal workforce has decreased about 3 percent, or 75,000 positions, from last year. That’s in sharp contrast to the slightly positive growth (0.3 percent) for the state […]

Tax Policy is MIA in the State of the Union

When it comes to tax policy, President Obama’s State of the Union address last night was a model of modesty. There was little new. And, while it is always hard to tell what really matters in a speech that included more than 40 separate initiatives, the president showed little enthusiasm for broad-based tax reform. With […]

IRS Gets Hammered in the 2014 Budget Agreement

The Internal Revenue Service is one of the biggest losers in the 2014 budget deal agreed to last night by House and Senate negotiators. Under the agreement, the service would get just $11.3 billion, which is $526 million below its 2013 budget and $1.7 billion less than President Obama requested. According to the House Appropriations […]

Pay to Extend Unemployment Benefits? Why Not Pay to Extend Temporary Tax Breaks Too?

In the battle over whether to extend long-term unemployment benefits, one of the Republican talking points is: Sure, we’ll consider an extension, but it must be paid for. That’s a fine idea. Here’s another: In exactly the same way, Congress should offset the cost of restoring dozens of temporary tax breaks that expired on Dec. […]

TheTaxVox 2013 Lump of Coal Award: Wait ‘Til Next Year Edition

Tax Vox proudly announces its seventh annual Lump of Coal Award for the worst tax and fiscal policies of 2013. The year was a curious mix of really bad ideas and dithering. After all, Congress’s finest moment may have been its December budget mini-deal—a decision that effectively ignored every one of the great fiscal questions facing […]

The Budget Deal: A Needed Time Out From Washington’s Fiscal Tantrums

House and Senate budget negotiators have reached what can only be called a temporary fiscal truce—if they can convince their congressional colleagues to accept it. House Budget Committee Chair Paul Ryan (R-WI) and Senate Budget Committee Chair Patty Murray (D-WA) hammered out a lowest-common-denominator deal that gives both parties two years of breathing room—and talking points. […]

Whither the Tax Extenders?

In three weeks, more than 60 expiring tax provisions will…expire. At least for a while. It isn’t unusual for these mostly-business tax breaks to temporarily disappear, only to come back from the dead a few months after their technical expiration. But this time businesses are more nervous than usual. Their problem: Congress may have few […]

Why the Next Debt Limit Debacle Might be Worse

Congress’s latest flirtation with debt-limit default caused barely a ripple in the financial markets. Rates on short-term Treasuries spiked in early October, before quickly subsiding to more normal levels. The spread between one- and three-year Treasuries temporarily widened, but quickly fell back to a more normal trend. All told, financial markets barely blinked. Unfortunately, the […]

How Washington May Turn June Into Fiscal February

For those of you keeping score, the Congressional Budget Office now figures the next showdown over the nation’s debt limit will occur in March, or maybe as late as May or early June. That means up to six more months of fiscal uncertainty, unless Congress decides to kick the can further down the road before […]