Checking In: July Update
Checking In … On Our Nation's Checkbook
This month’s Checking In is a brief one, even though budget and debt negotiations are at the top of Congress’ to-do list. Once a month, however, is not often enough to keep up with all the news. Below you will see links to FCNL’s briefings and analyses of the most recent news. We encourage you not to wait until the next Checking In to see what’s happening on budget issues in Congress.
What’s happening right now: Congress is focusing primarily on debt and deficit reduction talks, specifically relating to increasing the debt limit. The Treasury Department continues to announce an August 2 deadline, when the federal treasury will no longer be able to meet the nation’s obligations. Congress must act before then.
Find out more:
Who are the players? This program helps you distinguish the committees from the task forces and the gangs from the commissions.
What Are the Options?
The Gang of Six Proposal: Cuts federal spending by $2.7 trillion, increases revenues by $1 trillion. Net effect on debt: $3.7 trillion. Cuts are included for security and non-security discretionary spending, with a requirement that congressional committees propose reforms in large entitlement programs and the tax code. See an outline of the proposal and find out who's in the Gang of Six in Who Are the Players?
The McConnell Alternative: The Biden Group is considering this proposed plan, offered by Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (KY) and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (NV). Some version of this approach, augmented by some of the ideas presented in the Gang of Six proposal, may become the core of the bargain that negotiators arrive at in the next few days, which includes closing some tax loopholes and cuts to welfare programs. Read what we know so far and see who's in the Biden group in Who are the Players?
“Cut, Cap, and Balance” Act: This bill, H.R. 2560, was introduced in the House of Representatives to place tight controls on government spending. The House passed the bill on Tuesday, July 19 by a vote of 234 – 190, mostly along party lines. The bill ties government spending and income to the nation’s gross domestic product (GDP) in ways that, in FCNL’s eyes, are dangerous. See what FCNL thinks about it.
The Ryan Budget: Over ten years, the plan cuts spending by $4.3 trillion with $4.2 trillion in tax cuts with a net deficit reduction of 160 billion. The cuts would come mostly from programs that low income people rely on. See the budget for yourself.
Balanced Budget Amendment: A constitutional amendment has also been part of the deficit debate. The amendment would permanently tie federal spending to a predetermined percentage of the gross domestic product, regardless of the nation’s needs or capacities. See a description of the legislation and a critique of this approach by leading economists and Nobel laureates.
FCNL continues to lobby for $2 trillion in savings over 10 years to be found predominantly in cuts to the Pentagon budget and savings made from closing tax loopholes to corporations and the wealthy. Find out how you can take action.
Stay tuned for regular updates on FCNL’s website, and in the mean time, test your budget knowledge and let your members of Congress know your thoughts on the budget!