On January 21, Treasury deputy secretary Neal Wolin said that a debt default would occur if the government failed to make any payment in a timely manner, not just interest payments. Reuters columnist Felix Salmon commented that the Treasury has redefined the term “default” to mean something different from its commonly understood definition.
On January 20, the House Republican Study Committee put forward a proposal that would cut $2.5 trillion in federal spending over the next 10 years.
Also on January 20, the Congressional Budget Office published a study comparing compensation for federal civilian and military personnel.
And on January 20, a CBS News/New York Times poll found that 81 percent of people think budget deficits are occasionally or always permissible; only 16 percent think they are never okay. It also found that 39 percent of people think that reducing the deficit will not require cuts in programs that benefit them.
Also on January 20, the CBO published a study on spending and funding for highways. In 2007, the nation spent $146 billion to build, operate, and maintain highways; one-fourth paid by the federal government and three-fourths paid by state and local governments.
In a January 18 commentary, budget expert Stan Collender discussed the White House’s options in the event of another government shutdown resulting from congressional failure to enact a timely extension of the temporary appropriation for FY2011 which expires on March 4. House Republicans have repeatedly said that such an extension is impossible without large cuts in spending for the current fiscal year, which began on October 1, 2010.
Also on January 18, Senator Kent Conrad, chairman of the Senate Budget Committee, announced his retirement next year.
On January 5, the Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget posted an analysis of new House rules adopted by Republicans that prevent increases in entitlement spending but allow unlimited tax cuts. A description of the new rules by the House Budget Committee can be found here.
I last posted items on this topic on January 18.
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).