Focus on Budget and Debt

Focus on Budget and Debt

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On April 4, the International Monetary Fund published a working paper which found that closing fiscal and generational imbalances would require all taxes to go up and all transfers to be cut immediately and permanently by 35 percent.

An April 4 Pew poll found that people would blame both parties equally in the event of a government shutdown due to a budget impasse.

And on April 4, Treasury Secretary Geithner notified Congress that the debt limit would likely be breeched around the middle of May.

In an April 2 commentary, former Senate Budget Committee staff director Steve Bell warned Republican extremists that failure to compromise on the budget could lead to creation of a new governing coalition in Congress between moderate Republicans and Democrats.

An April 1 Rasmussen poll found that 57 percent of people favor a government shutdown if it leads to larger spending cuts.

In an April 1 commentary, Harvard economist Ken Rogoff discussed the use of independent fiscal councils as a possible cure for budgetary problems.

Also on April 1, a new CNN/Opinion Research poll examined peoples’ knowledge of how the federal government spends its money. It finds that most really have no idea what percentage of the budget goes to various programs.

A March 31 Pew poll asked people which among these programs the federal government spent the most on: Medicare, education, scientific research, or interest on the debt. Only 29 percent of people correctly said Medicare, 7 percent said education, 7 percent said scientific research, and 36 percent said interest.

On March 31, Senate Republicans introduced S.J. Res. 10 which would require federal spending to be reduced to 18 percent of GDP. An analysis by the Economic Policy Institute that same day noted that Rep. Paul Ryan’s “Roadmap” proposal wouldn’t get spending down to that level for more than 50 years. Also on March 31, Bob Greenstein of the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities explained that the way the amendment is drafted it would actually require spending to be cut to 16.7 percent of GDP.

In a March 30 commentary, bond investor Bill Gross of PIMCO said that he sees little likelihood that the U.S. can avoid a debt default.

On March 29, the Congressional Budget Office published a report on the Troubled Asset Relief Program (TARP).

I last posted items on this topic on March 29.

Bruce Bartlett is an American historian and columnist who focuses on the intersection between politics and economics. He  blogs daily  and writes a  weekly column  at The Fiscal Times. Bartlett has written for Forbes Magazine and Creators Syndicate, and his work is informed by many years in government, including as a senior policy analyst in the Reagan White House. He is the author of seven books including the New York Times best-seller, Imposter: How George W. Bush Bankrupted America and Betrayed the Reagan Legacy (Doubleday, 2006). 

Bruce Bartlett’s columns focus on the intersection of politics and economics. The author of seven books, he worked in government for many years and was senior policy analyst in the Reagan White House.