Category: Featured
FY 2018 Trump Budget: Top 10 Things You Should Know

The Trump Administration released the President's FY 2018 Budget on Tuesday, May 23, launching a contentious and consequential debate over America's priorities.

Most analysts would agree that projected deficits are unsustainable.  Annual federal deficits, under current policies, are projected by the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office (CBO) to increase from nearly $500 billion in FY 2018, to $1 trillion in 2022, to $1.4 trillion in 2027. Federal debt (owed to the public) is projected to rise from 77% of GDP in 2018 to 89% in 2027, 113% in 2037, and 150% of GDP in 2047; and within 10 years, annual federal interest payments will exceed three-quarters of a trillion dollars.

All of this underscores the need for long-term stabilization of debt as a percent of GDP. However, as explained below, the Trump Budget's claim to balance the Federal budget is based on unrealistic economics, dubious savings, unfunded investments, ignoring trillions in tax cuts, and spending cuts impacting the most vulnerable Americans and those who have fallen on hard times. ...

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FY 2018 Budget: Major Clashes Expected on Appropriations, Tax Cuts, Entitlement Cuts

Administration will release the President's FY 2018 Budget on Tuesday, May 23, launching a contentious and consequential debate over America's priorities. OMB Director Mulvaney will testify at House Budget Committee on 5/24 and Senate Budget Committee on 5/25.

Five Major Pieces to this Year's Contentious Budget Debate: [1.] Appropriations Impasse or a New Bipartisan Budget Deal? [2.] Cutting Entitlements $500 - $800 billion over 10 Years [3.] Individual and Business Tax Cuts, Reforms [4.] Balancing the Budget vs. Investment & Infrastructure [5.] Debt Ceiling...

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Healthcare: ACA Repeal-and-Replace

The House on Thursday, May 4, narrowly approved 217-213 a revised bill (HR 1628, "American Health Care Act") to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act (Obamacare), although the measure faces uncertainty in the Senate. The House passed the bill without Congressional Budget Office (CBO) estimates of the number of Americans likely to lose health insurance coverage or the legislation's overall cost. Below is a summary of the bill's impact and cost approximations based on previous versions of the bill.

First, it is useful to put Obamacare in context. America has a diversity of healthcare approaches:
  • About half of all Americans have employer-provided insurance.
  • About 1-in-5 have Medicaid, which is an entitlement for low-income Americans, under which the Federal and State governments share the cost of paying healthcare providers.
  • About 1-in-6 have Medicare, which is government-provided national health insurance (otherwise known as "single payer"), paid for by payroll taxes, general tax revenues, and premiums.
  • About 2%, most Veterans, Military, and some Indian Tribes, receive care at government facilities from government physicians.
  • Others, who can afford it, purchase private health insurance.
  • Obamacare is aimed at providing access to health care for uninsured Americans through a hybrid approach: (1) expanding Medicaid to cover Americans up to 138% of the federal poverty level (31 States and DC participate); and (2) government subsidies to purchase private insurance on State or Federal exchanges for people between 138% and 400% of federal poverty level.
The House-passed bill would:...

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Finding the Right Metrics for the First 100 Days

Senator Daniel Patrick Moynihan, who I had the privilege to work for in the Senate, was famous for the truism that “everyone is entitled to their own opinions, but not their own facts.”  He was also well known for insisting on the right metrics to evaluate progress in our nation, states, and cities.  As we are bombarded by punditry on the first 100 days of the Administration, we would all benefit by focusing on the right metrics.  The number of bills proposed or passed, the number of orders signed or overturned, or the number of promises checked off are the wrong metrics.

Every Administration  and every Congress — regardless of the Party in power — should be judged by how its actions impact: the growth of America’s Middle Class; the opportunities for education, training and economic advancement; access to affordable healthcare; the stability and long-term health of our environment; the strength, openness, and vitality of our democracy and confidence in our democratic institutions; the security of our people, both domestically and internationally; and the advancement of democracy, stability, tolerance, and human rights globally.  In this spirit, will continue to provide nonpartisan, factual, and plain English updates on Federal #budget, #spending, #taxes, #debt, the #economy, #healthcare, #international-trade, and all things #Federal.  Read more at:

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Possible Government Shutdown Looms

In the run-up to last year’s contentious elections, Congress was unable to agree on FY 2017 appropriations for most of the government’s departments and agencies, instead passing a stopgap measure (called a “continuing resolution” or “CR”) to keep federal departments and agencies operating at...

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The Senate’s “Nuclear Option” — How it Works and Why it Matters

Charles S. Konigsberg served as Chief Counsel on the Minority Staff of the Senate Rules Committee, General Counsel at the Senate Finance Committee, counsel at the Senate Budget Committee, and Senate liaison at the White House Office of Management and Budget.
We are about to witness a major change in how the U.S. Senate operates – the so-called “nuclear option.”  Following is an explanation of how it works and why it matters....

On November 21, 2013, the Senate created a major exception to the 60-vote cloture threshold. In a procedural vote, the Senate adopted a precedent that ending a filibuster on a President’s executive and judicial appointments would only require a simple majority of Senators voting. The precedent specifically excluded nominations to the Supreme Court, which still requires 60 votes to end a filibuster.

What made this 2013 precedent “nuclear,” is the way the Rules change was accomplished.  The Senate ignored its own Standing Rules requiring that: (i) changes to the Rules can occur only with prior written notice; and (ii) debate on a Rules change can only be brought to a close upon a two-thirds vote of the Senate (67 Senators if all are present).  The Standing Rules very deliberately set a high threshold for changing the rules.


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How Tax Reform Will Unfold

In evaluating where the White House and GOP congressional leaders will focus their efforts following the demise of Trump-Ryan health care reform, consider the following: $1 trillion in new infrastructure spending is a heavy lift due to significant conservative opposition to new spending and few indications of a move toward bipartisanship; and the White House budget plan calling for $54 billion in defense increases, offset by cuts to widely supported domestic programs, is a non-starter because adjusting the spending caps and enactment of Appropriations bills both require 60 votes in the Senate.

Therefore, tax reform is likely to be next in the legislative queue. White House and GOP Congressional leaders are likely to begin Tax Reform this Spring using the FY 2018 congressional budget process, to take advantage of Budget Reconciliation’s filibuster-proof fast-track in the Senate. Here’s how it works and what may be included in the tax bill...

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Essential Facts About the American Health Care Act (“Trump-Ryan”)

As the House prepares to vote on the American Health Care Act (HR 1628 “Trump-Ryan”), following are the essential facts about how the bill would change the Affordable Care Act (“ObamaCare”): Background on US healthcare: About half of all Americans have employer-provided healthcare, which...

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