Spared from Pension Hikes

Spared from Pension Hikes

  • By Tammy Flanagan National Institute of Transition Planning
  • December 13, 2013
martellostudio/Shutterstock.com

I’ve recently conducted several webinars, and each included a question-and-answer period at the end. But there were many more questions than I had time to answer. So I thought I’d address some of them here.

In the current fiscal environment and pressures of sequestration, how likely is it that changes will be made to the federal retirement rules and benefits in the next year or two?

I don’t like to be the one to say “I told you so,” but I did. I keep my optimism that Congress won’t make too many changes to the retirement benefits of federal employees since this group represents such a large voting population and federal employees are well-represented in in the political system by a variety of labor unions and associations. Continue reading “Spared from Pension Hikes”

Budget Deal Is a Tipping Point for the US Economic Recovery

Curious Capitalist

Budget Deal Is a Tipping Point for the US Economic Recovery

By Dec. 11, 2013
image: The sun rises on a cloudy morning at the Capitol in Washington, Nov. 13, 2012.
J. Scott Applewhite / AP

Whisper it—we may be at a tipping point in the US economic recovery. The announcement that U.S. budget negotiators have reached a provisional two-year deal to avert another government shutdown (which had been set to happen, sans deal, in early 2014) was fantastic news. For the last few years, government has been a headwind, rather than a help, to the recovery. If you’d have stripped the public sector out of the growth numbers over the last year or so, you’d find that the U.S. was already in a 3 percent growth economy, rather than the sluggish “New Normal” of 2 percent that we’ve all gotten used to. If this deal, which still has to be voted on in both the House and Senate, marks a move from gridlocked, partisan politics in Washington to something more constructive, that’s a big deal. Continue reading “Budget Deal Is a Tipping Point for the US Economic Recovery”

Here’s what’s in Paul Ryan and Patty Murray’s mini-budget deal

Here’s what’s in Paul Ryan and Patty Murray’s mini-budget deal

Posted by Ezra Klein on December 10, 2013 at 6:34 pm

1. The total deal is $85 billion. About $45 billion of that replaces sequestration cuts in 2014. About $20 billion replaces sequestration cuts in 2015. About $20 billion is deficit reduction atop sequestration.

2. The sequestration relief is evenly divided between defense spending and non-defense discretionary spending. The sequester’s cuts to mandatory spending are unaffected.

CBO – Options for Reducing the Deficit: Mandatory Spending

Congressional Budget Office

Supporting the congress since 1975

Options for Reducing the Deficit: Mandatory Spending

posted by Sheila Dacey on December 6, 2013

CBO recently published a report on Options for Reducing the Deficit: 2014 to 2023. That report is now available in a fully digital version, so users can search the options according to major budget category, budget function, and major program category. The report included 23 options for changing mandatory spending programs (apart from options primarily involving health); they are listed at the bottom of this post with estimates of their budgetary savings.

Trends in Mandatory Spending

Mandatory spending—which totaled about $2.0 trillion in 2013, or about 60 percent of federal outlays, CBO estimates—consists of all spending (other than interest on federal debt) that is not subject to annual appropriations. Lawmakers generally determine spending for mandatory programs by setting the programs’ parameters, such as eligibility rules and benefit formulas, rather than by appropriating specific amounts each year. Mandatory spending is net of offsetting receipts—certain fees and other charges that are recorded as negative budget authority and outlays. Continue reading “CBO – Options for Reducing the Deficit: Mandatory Spending”

Federal Budget: 10 Cuts That Would Save the Most

The Fiscal Times

Federal Budget: 10 Cuts That Would Save the Most

By Brianna Ehley December 6, 2013 4:45 AM

The clock is ticking on the Congressional Budget Conference Committee, which only has eight days left to cobble together a budget before the Dec. 13 deadline. And though lawmakers have signaled that they are close to a deal, nothing is certain.

Budgeteers in both parties are aiming for a deal that cancels the second wave of sequester cuts authorized under the Budget Control Act of 2011. To undo those cuts, they’ll have to find savings in other areas. Some potential elements in the emerging deal include raising federal employees’ contributions to their pension funds, or having the Federal Communications Commission auction rights to electromagnetic spectrum, according to congressional aides.

Related: Enter New Budget Deal, Exit Loathsome Sequester

As difficult as it may be for Republicans and Democrats to agree on a narrow package to replace the sequester cuts, much more difficult choices lay ahead. As the Congressional Budget Office put it in a report released last month: “To put the federal budget on a sustainable long-term path, lawmakers would need to make significant policy changes—allowing revenues to rise more than would occur under current law, reducing spending for large benefit programs to amounts below those currently projected, or adopting some combination of those approaches.” Continue reading “Federal Budget: 10 Cuts That Would Save the Most”