Economy & Budget

Strengthening Social Security for the long run

Current policy discussions about the long-term financing of Social Security often hold up reforms enacted in 1983 as a model of balanced political compromise that might be replicated today. But a closer examination tells a different story with important ramifications for the current era.


Tax simplification: Congress passes the buck

If you can’t say it simply, you probably don’t understand it --Albert Einstein

President Bush brands the 3.7 million word tax tome a “complicated mess;” President Obama dubs it a “monster tax code.” Both appoint Blue Ribbon Tax Reform Commissions that deliver balanced reports, loaded with good ideas. Neither will see the light of day; K Street special interest demons will see to that.


Taking mortgage finance back to the 1930s

Should Republicans take control of Congress in the upcoming midterm congressional elections, leading conservatives such as Rep. Spencer Bachus (R-Ala.) and Sen. Richard Shelby (R-Ala.) — the ranking Republicans on the House Financial Services Committee and Senate Banking Committee, respectively — have promised to end the government’s role in the U.S. mortgage markets and bring us back to a “purely private” mortgage system. Current and prospective homeowners need to understand just how radical this proposed agenda is, and what it would mean for Americans should it be implemented.


NPR needs to stand on own two feet (Rep. Doug Lamborn)

National Public Radio’s (NPR) recent firing of longtime news analyst Juan Williams was a wake-up call for many Americans to the political correctness and liberal bias at NPR. However, it is not so much that bias that offends me, but the fact that my tax dollars are funding it.

Long before this Juan Williams fiasco blew up with NPR, I had sponsored a bill in Congress to pull the plug on federal funding for NPR. I have long believed that the operation is fully capable of standing on its own. It is time for Congress to prioritize its spending to our nation’s most pressing needs. With the national debt over $13 trillion dollars, the government cannot continue to fund non-essential services.


So you want to privatize (Rep. Jim McDermott)

Last week, former President George W. Bush emerged from his Texas mansion to declare that the biggest failure of his presidency was not privatizing Social Security. President Bush should take a good look around because he failed at a number of things, but failing to gut one of America's most effective programs was, in fact, a huge success for the American people. Nevertheless, Bush's dream of putting our retirement benefits into the reckless hands of Wall Street hasn't died, and Republicans have made it clear that privatizing Social Security and Medicare is among their top priorities.


Gender pay gap takes on added significance in tough economic times

While the gender wage gap has been a fact of life in America for decades, the issue rarely rises to the forefront in public policy debates – much less elections. That may be changing. As the economy has tumbled and more women have become the primary or sole breadwinners for their families, pay inequity may finally be getting the attention it deserves.


Keeping our eyes on the (economic recovery) prize

Last week, the media and the plaintiffs' bar tried to turn an arcane set of legal procedures into a foreclosure crisis. After a brief review, the industry revealed that most foreclosures involve borrowers who moved out long ago and have not made loan payments in more than two years. Moreover, the vast majority of the "errors" discovered do not affect the legal claim on the property.


Is Obama sincere this time about working together to restore our fiscal health? (Rep. Phil Roe)

In a recent interview with the National Journal, President Obama was quoted saying he would be “happy to sit down” with Republican members of Congress and go through the budget “line by line” to address the enormous fiscal challenges this country is facing because of the unsustainable levels of spending.

The president has made similar offers in the past, like when I took him up on his offer to go over the health care bill “line by line” – which to this day I am still waiting to hear back from him.  Even still, I would certainly like to take President Obama up on his offer and meet at his earliest convenience to discuss areas in the budget that can be reduced or eliminated. That is why I, along with several of my colleagues, are sending the president a letter – once again – taking him up on his offer.


Government spending cuts: Only part of the equation

As most of us should know by now (but probably don't) a country's gross domestic product (its GDP) consists of its people's consumption (C), plus their investment (I), plus their collective expenditure - what their government spends (or does not spend) on their behalf (G), plus their net exports - exports less imports (NE). Expanding GDP, denoting a growing economy, is deemed to be a good thing; contracting GDP, denoting an economy in recession, a bad one. At the moment governments in the developed world are struggling to keep the GDP of their countries expanding. But if doing so is such a good thing, why is it proving such a struggle?


In search of fiscal responsibility: Ten questions to ask the candidates

Fiscal responsibility is one of the major issues this campaign season, with a recent Bloomberg News poll indicating that voters rank the federal budget deficit as the second most important issue facing the country, falling right behind the economy/jobs. As Election Day approaches, more and more candidates will assume the mantle of fiscal responsibility, but often, they will not offer the specific policies to back up their rhetoric. The nonpartisan Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget suggests these 10 questions as a way for voters to help gauge a candidate's true fiscal bona fides.