The Pileup Behind the Fiscal Slope, and the Consequences of Inaction

By: Friday December 21, 2012 10:23 am

Say what you will about the 2010 deal to extend the Bush tax cuts, which helped to set up what we’re seeing this month. But there was definitely a virtue in getting it done by early December, allowing for a productive lame duck session that repealed Don’t Ask Don’t Tell, passed the New START arms reduction treaty, and several other measures. Because this entire lame duck has been consumed with fiscal slope negotiations, and really only the tax rate and social insurance part of it, bills that might have had a chance to pass through Congress if the pipeline were unclogged instead remain dormant. And unlike 2010, the bills in question in 2012 are more of the must-pass variety.


Lame Duck Congress Has Lots of Work to Do Even Without Fiscal Slope

By: Sunday November 11, 2012 6:45 am

Among the many other reasons not to engage in a grand bargain during the lame duck session is that Congress actually needs to get busy with other matters. For a variety of reasons, mainly that they’re not good at their job, Congress left a multitude of items on the table for the lame duck, many of which must pass aside from the fiscal slope measures like the Bush tax cuts, the sequester, unemployment insurance, the payroll tax cut and the alternative minimum tax patch. The Hill rounds some of them up.

I put these in the categories of “good” and “must avoid disaster.”

Steny Hoyer’s Push to Ruin Everything

By: Monday February 27, 2012 3:33 pm

In the aftermath of a horribly bruising debt limit deal and the Occupy movement, the focus in Washington shifted away from deficits and back to the economy, jobs and income inequality. But as a reminder that social movements must be constant and vigilant, one powerful Democrat, in association with a DC lobbying group, wants to bring us right back to that moment last year when everybody hated politicians.

Payroll Tax/UI Bill Passes the House; Senate Vote Did Not Face a Filibuster

By: Friday February 17, 2012 10:07 am

The House passed the payroll tax/UI/doc fix bill this morning by a count of 293-132. 91 Republicans and 41 Democrats voted against the bill, but the combination of Democrats and Republicans in support were more than enough to carry the bill across the line. Republicans voting against it were mostly hardliners philosophically opposed to things like unemployment insurance and newly exercised about tax cuts for working families, particularly without an offset. Democrats voting no opposed some of the pay-fors – particularly the increase in pension contributions for new federal employees, and cuts to health care programs – and the reduction of weeks of eligibility for unemployment benefits.

Deal on Payroll Tax/UI Bill to Get Vote Within Days

By: Thursday February 16, 2012 9:59 am

Negotiators say they have a deal on a $150 billion bill to extend the payroll tax cut, some unemployment insurance benefits and the “doc fix” to the end of the year, a bill that will sacrifice some health care prevention money, several weeks of unemployment eligibility, and at the very end, pension contributions for new federal employees.

Latest Details on Payroll Tax/UI Bill Includes Cuts to Health Care Prevention Fund, Jobless Benefits

By: Wednesday February 15, 2012 2:55 pm

The details on this emerging deal on various expiring measures are getting worse by the minute. The dominant policy desire here looks to be to get something done, regardless of the impact on federal employees, the humiliation of newly-drug-tested jobless workers, and the detriment to our health care system.

Tentative Payroll Tax/UI Deal Would Cut Indeterminate Number of Weeks of Extended Unemployment Benefits

By: Wednesday February 15, 2012 7:00 am

Late yesterday afternoon, news broke of a tentative deal to extend the payroll tax cut, unemployment insurance and the “doc fix” on Medicare reimbursement rates. Only we shouldn’t say that the deal would extend unemployment benefits, because it wouldn’t extend all of them. There will be cuts to the maximum number of weeks of benefits of anywhere between 10 and 36.

Payroll Tax Cut Negotiations: Unemployment Benefits Set to Drop from 99 to 79 or Less Weeks

By: Tuesday February 14, 2012 2:50 pm

House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi released a statement that probably secures passage for a standalone, unfunded payroll tax cut. Meanwhile, the Senate in negotiating changes to unemployment insurance that may shorten it from 99 to 79 weeks or less or impose other restrictions.

Senate Dems Could Add UI and Doc Fix to Unfunded Payroll Tax Cut Bill

By: Tuesday February 14, 2012 7:00 am

Senate Democrats have a plan for the payroll tax cut legislation that House Republicans basically gave up on yesterday. They can add the Unemployment Insurance extension and “doc fix” to the payroll bill, along with offsets for the UI and “fix” that the GOP might buy, and force the whole package on the House as the deadline nears.

Republicans Cave on Payroll Tax Cut, Propose Full-Year Extension Without Offsets

By: Monday February 13, 2012 12:20 pm

In an impressive bit of caving, the House Republican leadership has given up on finding offsets for the payroll tax cut, proposing a bill that would extend the current cut to the end of the year without any funding. However, the other two pieces that were tied to the overall legislation at the end of last year, extended unemployment benefits and the “doc fix” to avoid a reset of Medicare reimbursement rates, would not be included.

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