Fiscal Policy in the News

Line Items: Game of Thrones Edition

Winter is Coming – HBO’s “Game of Thrones” has a legion of devoted fans. The show deftly combines mystical elements with real-world political intrigue. Of course, the gratuitous sex and violence may also play a role in its popularity. The fictional capital of King’s Landing could be mistaken for Washington, DC except for the (slightly) better sanitation in our capital. King’s Landing is filled with plotting and backstabbing and is currently under siege.

Line Items: Star Wars Edition

A Galaxy Far, Far Away – Friday was Stars Wars Day, the annual observance of the popular movie series that plays on the date, as in May the Fourth (be with you). The franchise seems as strong as ever, having survived Jar Jar Binks and returning to the big screen again; this time in 3-D glory. The classic battle between good and evil portrayed in the films is timeless and offers many lessons for us today.

Line Items: Play Off Edition

Play On – The NHL playoffs are under way. The Red Wings were clipped, the Sharks sunk, the Canucks cannot, and the Penguins were iced. In Washington, fans are holding their breath. Will the Caps grind out a win over the defending champion Bruins, or will they suffer yet another early exit? Meanwhile, there is plenty of action away from the ice. Both parties continue to play off of each other when it comes to fiscal matters. The same excuses and insults are shot back at one another like a hockey puck, with no one seemingly aiming for the net.

Line Items: Tax Edition

Tax Reform Cometh…Eventually – Today is Tax Day, when federal tax returns are due. Procrastinators have DC Emancipation Day, a holiday in the District of Columbia celebrating the day President Lincoln freed the slaves there, to thank for the extra day to file. The law prohibits Tax Day from falling on a weekend or federal or state holiday. Congress returns from a two-week hiatus just in time for lawmakers to take advantage of the tax filing deadline to promote their favorite tax reforms.

Line Items: Easter Egg Edition

What the Bunny Left Behind – We’ve given up on giving things up for Lent, Passover will be passing, and the Easter Bunny has hopped into the pastel sunset. Yet, plenty of tasty goodies have been left behind. Likewise, legislators left plenty in their wake as they rushed home for the holidays, though nothing very sweet. Congress was out last week and remains in recess this week. Lawmakers will then return to some unfinished fiscal business. Easter eggs are wondrous things – colorful and full of surprises. They can be found in unexpected places.

CRFB's Policy Director Says "Stabilize the Debt"

CRFB's Senior Policy Director Marc Goldwein was the subject of a CNN piece (audio here) on the goal of deficit reduction (and the life of a budget wonk). Marc said that the focus of fiscal policy should be to stabilize the debt as a percent of GDP and get it on a downward path.

Line Items: Bloom and Gloom Edition

Bloom and Gloom – Washington’s famous Cherry Blossoms bloomed just ahead of the festival in their honor, and most promptly disappeared due to stormy weather in DC. Now, we can look forward to five weeks of celebrations with the namesakes mostly absent. A similar situation is playing out with the federal budget. There have been weeks of hearings, which will culminate this week as the House votes on the FY 2013 budget resolution. Yet, it is clear that there will be no budget coming out of Congress, again.

Line Items: March to Madness Edition

Mad, Mad World – There’s enough madness in DC to go around. Lawmakers from opposite parties seem perpetually angry at each other, yet they are moving in lockstep towards what Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke recently called a “fiscal cliff” at the end of the year. And expecting Congress to adopt a budget has become akin to picking a 16th seed to win. Unlike the big tourney, there doesn’t seem to be an end in sight to this madness. Think you can do better?

Line Items: Primary Edition

Deficit Secondary in Primary – The presidential primary campaign hits a key point this week as "Super Tuesday" contests in several states may go a long ways in determining who will face off against President Obama in November. Although voters constantly rank the economy and federal budget deficit as the top two issues, they seem to have taken a back seat to social issues in the campaign right now. However, CRFB’s U.S. Budget Watch project seeks to elevate fiscal policy in the election.

Fiscal Policy Enters Campaign Debate

Several developments this week give us hope that this election season will offer some much-needed focus on fiscal policy. Although exit/entrance polls from each state that has voted in the primaries so far have indicated that the federal budget deficit is the number two most important issue for voters behind the economy/jobs, there has yet to be much substantive discussion of the topic on the campaign trail. But that might be changing.

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