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After almost 8 years of being a standalone blog, Capital Gains and Games will now be published by Forbes.
I will continue to write CG&G and will do so with total independence. Forbes is interested in having the exact same type of analysis and information CG&G has always provided to its readers. What I write will not be reviewed or approved by anyone before it's posted. I have total freedom to be as snarky as I have been in the past.
The only thing that will change is the name. In keeping with Forbes policy, the blog will be published under my name rather than as Capital Gains and Games.
CG&G's archives will remain where they are right now. You'll still have access to every post that Troy Schneider, Andrew Samwick, Pete Davis, Bruce Bartlett, Gordon Adams, Ed Andrews and Dan Rosenthal and I published on CG&G right here at http://capitalgainsandgames.com
I'll have a very exciting announcement about CG&G's next step before the Obama budget is released next Tuesday.
Watch this space.
It had almost no chance of being enacted anyway, but the comprehensive tax reform proposal that will be revealed by House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Dave Camp (R-MI) this afternoon kills even the very limited possibility that something will happen on taxes this year.
It also very likely kills the chance of tax reform in 2015 and 2016.
The reason is simple: The plan includes tax increases on key Republican constituencies. No matter how rational that might be from a numerical point of view, that's not something Camp's colleagues will be able even to tacitly approve let alone actually vote for before either the next congressional election this November or the next presidential election in 2016.
We used to say that a president's budget wasn't worth the paper on which it was printed. These days we say the same thing a bit differently: the president's budget isn't worth the memory needed to store it on your computer.
Either way you have to ask why the White House should even bother?
Take what's happening with the 2015 budget, for example.
As reported by The New York Times and others, last week's big budget news was that the Obama administration's fiscal 2015 budget will not include the proposal made last year to change the way the annual Social Security cost-of-living adjustment is calculated.
That was covered as a typical politically red-hot inside-the-beltway story: the White House decided not to hand congressional Republicans an election year issue and congressional Democrats were breathing a huge sigh of relief because of it.
Last week's news reports about congressional (actually...congressional Republican) action on the debt ceiling did what in the journalism business is called "burying the lead," that is, the stories typically didn't start with the most important part of what happened.
To a certain extent that wasn't surprising. As most reports said, the GOP folded its debt ceiling tent and went home. Three years after Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) began to insist that Congress would never allow the government's borrowing limit to be raised again unless Republicans got something something in return, and long after House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) said there would be no debt ceiling increase unless he got a dollar in spending cuts for every dollar of increased borrowing authority, congressional Republicans allowed the government to borrow more without getting anything from the White House and congressional Democrats.
It's a very (at least by Washington standards) snowy day in and around the beltway, so what better time than to demonstrate the extreme (bordering on the ultra) hypocrisy these days that exists when it comes to the federal budget. All of these seemingly unrelated events and announcements took place over the past four weeks.
In case you missed it, the FY2014 omnibus appropriation, which will keep the government funded through the September 30, that is, through the end of the fiscal year, passed the Senate yesterday 72-26. It was adopted by the House the day before 359 to 67.
Here are the five quick reasons why the votes were so big and bipartisan.
1. The GOP is still hurting from the October government shutdown. There's no doubt that the negative political repercussions from being blamed for this October's two-week shutdown is haunting House Republicans. As happened after the 1995-1996 shutdowns when congressional Republicans took it on the chin politically, the chances of a shutdown being threatened again any time soon are now significantly lower than they were several months ago and the omnibus was the first opportunity for the House GOP leadership to take advantage of this new sentiment.
Keep these things in mind if you're thinking about popping a cork or two to celebrate Congress passing an omnibus appropriation over the next week that will keep the federal government open for business through the rest of fiscal 2014:
This is the week when the-year-in-review stories start to be published.
I've always found those recaps to be largely irrelevant. If something significant happened this past year you likely already know or remember it without it being included on a top 10 list. And if you don't remember could it really have been that noteworthy?
Besides, when it comes to the federal budget, nothing that happened -- including the much-ballyhooed-but-actually-totally-inconsequential end-of-year deal -- was so important that it merits further discussion.
My overwhelming preference is to look at what's ahead rather than at what's already occurred. With that in mind, here are my top five budget predictions for 2014.
Don't believe what you may have heard elsewhere about the budget deal. Here's the truth.
Myth #1: This prevents another government shutdown.
The deal may make a shutdown less likely, but it absolutely doesn't prevent one from happening.
Shutdowns occur when there is a lapse in appropriations, that is, when an existing appropriation expires and no new appropriation is enacted to replace it. This deal raises the ceiling on the amount that may be appropriated, but it does not actually appropriate anything.
There still could be, or likely will be, a fight in January over the amount being spent and what it is being spent on when the widely expected omnibus appropriation is debated. The deal provides a ceiling on the amount that may be spent rather than a guarantee and some members of Congress will want to re-litigate the increase that was negotiated in this agreement. Others will threaten to vote against the omnibus because they disagree with the bill's priorities.
Myth #2: Congress has now passed a budget for the first time in years.