I've been talking for months about how the Grand Bargain or Big Deal that's always mentioned whenever there are budget talks in Washington won't happen until 2019 at the earliest.
I first posted about 2019 in June and have mentioned it a number of times on television and radio and in speeches since then.
I've also been told that my analysis recently made the big time when a group of the most senior tax lobbyists in Washington discussed it at a private meeting (It's not clear whether they were happy about having six more years to work on issues or sad that nothing much would be done before the end of this decade at the earliest).
Each time I've talked about 2019 I've gotten reactions that range from shock to amazement. No one ever tells me I'm wrong; they just shake their heads in disbelief.
So once again, here's are the top 10 reasons we're likely facing six more years of crisis-by-crisis budgeting in Washington and no Grand Bargain any time soon.
By changing it's rules yesterday to prevent filibusters on executive branch and judicial nominees (other than the Supreme Court) -- the so-called nuclear option -- the Senate further complicated a federal budget debate that was already overly complicated and had little chance of success.
Although it's still less likely than likely, the prospects for a government shutdown in January increased significantly. Based on yesterday's action, I have increased the possibility that funding for the federal government will not be adopted by the time the current continuing resolution expires to 40 percent.
And the likelihood for sequestration to occur as scheduled in mid-January also jumped significantly.
1. In general terms, the federal budget debate in recent years has always been more emotional than rational and far more political than substantive. The emotions and politics were significantly ramped up yesterday.
Eminent economist Martin Feldstein, former chairman of the Council of Economic Advisors during the Reagan Administration, had an op-ed in The Washington Post earlier this week that shows he just doesn't understand what's happening with the budget conference.
Here's the money quote:
The key to a political compromise is to recognize that raising revenue does not require increasing tax rates. Substantial revenue could be raised by limiting the government spending built into the tax code."
Feldstein accurately notes that this would give congressional Democrats enough of what they want in a budget deal to agree to changes in mandatory programs, especially "slowing the growth of Social Security and Medicare."
Two weeks or so ago I posted that this fall's (and winter's) budget debate could best be described as "budget bedlam."
I was wrong.
Since that post the situation has taken a turn for the worse and "bedlam," which sounds more like a Marx Bothers, Mack Sennett, or Three Stooges movie than a political event, may no longer be appropriate.
I'm using a new phrase -- Fiscal Fiasco -- to describe what could be ahead.
What's changed? House and Senate Republicans are now threatening to use the debt ceiling increase that will be needed by the middle of November rather than the continuing resolution that will be needed by October 1 to make yet another stand on Obamacare.
This is more than just a timing shift for the fight: It actually significantly changes the probability that something economically disastrous could result.
August actually is a pretty good time to be in Washington.
Yes, the weather usually is awful. But with Congress gone, getting to work isn't as stressful because there's less demand on roads and public transit. You can get up later and still get to work on time.
And...of course...there's daily upbeat news from the Redskins' training camp.
I saw and felt all of this almost immediately on Friday when the House followed the Senate out of town for a five-week recess. Traffic was indeed lighter than usual, getting a table at my family's favorite local Italian bistro wasn't a problem and RGIII was interviewed on all of the local channels. Good times for sure.
But the usual sense of dramatically less stress that typically takes place at the same time didn't happen. Instead of talking about vacation plans, the standard topic of conversation all weekend was about what's going to happen when Congress comes back.
As a federal budget wonk, I was especially and repeatedly put on the spot by friends, reporters and clients about what's going to happen after Labor Day.