Focus on Budget and Debt

Focus on Budget and Debt

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In an October 31 commentary, Cornell political scientist Suzanne Mettler said that the Joint Select Committee on Deficit Reduction should not overlook spending through the tax code in its efforts.

According to an October 28 Bloomberg report, half of all Americans live in a household where at least one member receives direct government benefits.

In an October 26 commentary, Harvard economist Martin Feldstein is critical of Republicans for not being willing to cut tax expenditures as part of a budget deal. Such spending through the tax code is economically equivalent to direct spending, he says.

Also on October 26, the Joint Select Committee on Deficit Reduction held a hearing on discretionary spending in the budget.

On October 24, the U.S. Government Accountability Office published new projections of the long-range budget outlook.

On October 18, the Federal Reserve Bank of Cleveland posted a study of deficit reduction efforts in foreign countries.

An October 17 CNN poll found that people favor reducing unemployment over deficit reduction by a 61 percent to 35 percent margin.

On October 13, the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis published a study supporting more public works spending: “In an economic environment like today’s, where real interest rates are practically zero, if not negative, and the unemployment rate remains high, the opportunity cost to society of the government’s mobilizing capital and labor is unprecedentedly low: The private sector is not fully utilizing these resources; so, no opportunities are lost if the government uses them. Assuming investment projects with a positive net expected return exist, as they surely do, there has hardly been a less costly time to start such projects.”

Also on October 13, the Congressional Research Services published a report on federal budget issues for FY2011, FY2012 and beyond.

I last posted items on this topic on October 14.

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 for 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 his new book: The Benefit and the Burden .

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.