Get ready for one of the most unusual federal budget spectacles of all time.
First, the Obama fiscal 2014 budget, which this year was supposed to be submitted by February 4th, is now expected to be released on April 8, that is, more than two months late and after the House and Senate adopted their own versions of a 2014 budget resolution. As far as I can tell this is the latest any president has submitted his budget (other than the first one after being elected) since the Congressional Budget Act was signed into law in 1974.
The administration deserves some slack here because of the fiscal cliff and sequestration. At the same time that every White House typically is putting the finishing touches on its budget for the coming year in December, this administration had to deal with the negotiations over the fiscal cliff and the possibility of the across-the-board cuts. This meant that the baseline and economic forecast that normally would have been locked and in place a month earlier was still a moving target at the start of February.
This article by Allan Sloan and Geoff Colvin from the business section of Sunday's The Washington Post makes it sound like getting a plan that eliminates the federal budget deficit is easy. All you have to do is come up with a list of spending and revenue changes that when added together reduce outlays and increase taxes.
I'm tempted to say, "Why didn't I think of that?" or "Hallelujah, I was blind but now I see" or any one of about a dozen other incredibly snarky things.
But I won't.
It's not that Sloan and Colvin have come up with a list that's bad or that their math is incorrect. To the contrary, they're proposing a version of what most objective budget analysts will tell you will need to be done if the deficit is to be reduced substantially.
I first openly expressed my doubts about the value of Mitt Romney selecting House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan (R-WI) as his vice presidential running mate 10 days ago. Here's the money quote from that post:
But Ryan and his budgets will be extremely vulnerable in a campaign because they include significant changes in Medicare. In case anyone has forgotten, Medicare is such a political hot potato that it has successfully been used in recent elections by Democrats to criticize Republicans and by Republicans to criticize Democrats. Polls show that even tea party supporters don’t want Medicare spending reduced.
Having Ryan on the ticket will allow the debate to be changed from what the GOP wants to talk about — the budget — to what Democrats will quickly say is the Romney/Ryan effort to kill Medicare. To say the least, that would put the Republican ticket on the defensive.
CG&G alum Bruce Bartlett had a great interview on CNBC yesterday about federal budget politics that is definitely worth a few minutes of your time. As usual, Bruce is candid, frank and a bi-partisan criticizer. Take a look below.
In case you didn't hear about it, the Canadian government last week decided to stop minting new pennies. The government says it will save $11 million a year by not manufacturing any more of the coins and instead having businesses round prices to the nearest five cents.
This story by Karen Weise in Bloomberg Businessweek explains some, but not all, of the reasons the U.S. won't soon follow the Canadians and do away with its own penny even though the budget savings would be considerably greater. Some additional things to consider: