CBO Director Elmendorf Discusses Budget Deficits

Considering the Fiscal Commission Recommendations

By Children’s Home Society of Florida Foundation

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Last week, on February 10th, the House Budget Committee held a hearing and Congressional Budget Office (CBO) Director Douglas Elmendorf discussed the federal budget deficit. Director Elmendorf emphasized the importance of addressing the deficit and also noted that the Fiscal Commission recommendations are a useful addition to the current discussion.

Of Paul Ryan

Chairman Paul Ryan noted that there still is a major problem with unemployment. According to Chairman Ryan, the recession ended in June of 2009 and between that time and December of 2010, “payroll employment rose by a mere 6/100 of 1% (0.06%).” Chairman Ryan noted that it is essential to restore growth in America. He advocated “low taxes, reasonable regulations sound money and spending restraint.”

Of Chris Van Hollen

Ranking Member Chris Van Hollen (D-MD) also responded to Director Elmendorf. He indicated a willingness to address the deficit. Rep. Van Hollen suggested that “Democrats and Republicans must work together now to put our nation on a fiscally sustainable path and we stand ready to do that.”

Assessment

However, Rep. Lloyd Doggett (D-TX) expressed concern that Chairman Ryan was focusing excessively on spending rather than on tax deductions. Rep. Doggett noted, “Dollar for dollar, cutting funding for cancer research or local law enforcement has the same effect on the deficit as closing a tax loophole that allows a Wall Street corporation to benefit by stashing their tax dollars offshore.” Rep. Doggett suggests that tax deductions will need to be reduced in order to address the deficit challenge.

Conclusion

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US Budget Deficits Require Both Spending Cuts and Tax Increases

The CRFB Speaks

By Children’s Home Society of Florida Foundation

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The nonpartisan Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget (CRFB) has published a release on October 20 that discusses some of the options to tackle the federal deficit. According to a Bloomberg News poll, there are two major issues that are foremost in the minds of voters as they go to the polls on November 2nd. The first is jobs and the US economy. The second issue focuses on federal finances and the budget deficit.

CFRB Suggestions

The CFRB suggests that there are four potential options for reducing expenditures and one for increasing revenue.

1. Fraud, Waste and Abuse – A favorite comment of all political candidates is that he or she will reduce fraud, waste and abuse. While there may be some savings, this historically has been a fairly modest part of actual deficit reduction.

2. Strengthen Social Security – Congress will need to address methods for strengthening Social Security. The Social Security program used to run a substantial surplus each year. However, in 2010 the federal deficit will total approximately $40 billion. That is, the amounts received by Social Security will be $40 billion lower than the amounts distributed for benefits.

Social Security

By 2020, Social Security could be running a $100 billion deficit. Social Security Trustees have stated, “The projected trust fund shortfalls should be addressed in a timely way so that necessary changes can be phased in gradually and workers can be given time to plan for them.”

3. Healthcare – The Congressional Budget Office notes that the current healthcare programs could require nearly one-half of the federal budget by 2030 or 2040. Therefore, there will need to be further changes in healthcare in order to make the program fiscally sustainable.

4. Defense – Defense expenditures in 2010 were 4.7% of Gross Domestic Product (GDP). This amounted to $692 billion. Defense Secretary Gates has acknowledged that there may be opportunities to eliminate some weapons systems and reduce expenditures.

5. Increased Taxes – The CFRB release states, “It is very difficult to lay out a credible deficit plan that would not increase taxes. It is also very difficult to develop a comprehensive plan that would not raise taxes on families making less than $250,000 per year.” The potential for increased taxes has focused on income taxes, capital gains taxes, estate taxes and a consumption tax such as a gas tax or a value added tax.

Assessment

The Fiscal Commission appointed by President Obama is expected to issue a report in December that discusses these issues.

Editor’s Note: Your editor and this organization take no position with respect to the many financial and tax options that are available to Congress. This information is offered as a public service to our readers.

Conclusion

And so, your thoughts and comments on this ME-P are appreciated. How does this state of affairs affect the healthcare industrial complex? Feel free to review our top-left column, and top-right sidebar materials, links, URLs and related websites, too. Then, subscribe to the ME-P. It is fast, free and secure.

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