Focus on Budget and Debt

Focus on Budget and Debt

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In a June 7 commentary, former Senate Budget Committee staff director Steve Bell ridiculed a group of House Republicans who insist that spending should be cut enough to reduce the fiscal year 2012 deficit in half. According to Bell, this would essentially require the total abolition of all domestic discretionary spending programs.

A June 7 Pew poll found that more people blame wars for increasing the national debt than any other cause. By a 65 percent to 30 margin, people favor reducing U.S. military commitments abroad, including a majority of Republicans.

A June 6 report from the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities examined administrative and economic problems with a balanced budget amendment to the Constitution.

In a June 3 interview, former Federal Reserve Board chairman Alan Greenspan said that the debt problem is so severe that tax increases are necessary.

Also on June 3, Brookings Institution economists William Gale and Benjamin Harris posted a paper explaining why the projected fiscal gap cannot be closed with spending cuts alone and why higher revenues will also be necessary.

On June 2, the International Monetary Fund posted a new database of fiscal consolidation episodes around the world since 1978. Only one fourth of episodes were accomplished without tax increases.

On June 2, Moody’s Investor Service warned that failure to raise the debt limit will lead to a downgrade in the Treasury’s credit rating.

On June 1, the U.S. Government Accountability Office published a report on opportunities to reduce duplication in government programs, save tax dollars and enhance revenue.

In a June 1 commentary, UCLA law professor Jonathan Zasloff argues that the passage of new appropriations since enactment of the last debt limit increase might provide a rationale for the Treasury to ignore the debt limit as a matter of law.

In a May 30 interview, former Reagan budget director David Stockman said that getting the debt under control will require tax increases on the middle class.

I last posted items on this topic on June 2.

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.