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.”


Tax Extenders Pass Senate Finance Committee

By: Sunday August 5, 2012 7:40 am

One man’s loophole is another constituent’s hard-won credit, and that person has someone in Washington lobbying on their behalf to keep that credit intact.

Romney: Delay the Trigger Cuts

By: Saturday August 4, 2012 10:00 am

There was a big breakthrough in the Presidential race, with implications for US fiscal policy, that sort of slipped by unnoticed on a Friday in August. Mitt Romney, the presumptive Republican nominee, argued for a one-year delay in the trigger, the automatic cuts to defense and discretionary spending set to go at the end of the year. Importantly, he did not identify an offset. He merely said that the trigger ought to be delayed.

House Passes One-Year Extension of Bush Tax Cuts

By: Thursday August 2, 2012 9:30 am

Yesterday the House put themselves on the record on the Bush tax cuts, ensuring that the issue will extend into the lame duck session and that the election, in large part, will determine the course of action.

Congress Moving to Wrap Up Budget, Farm Bill With Short-Term Extensions

By: Friday July 27, 2012 3:29 pm

With conservatives in retreat, it does look like we’ll get a six-month stopgap spending bill that will put off any budget hostage-taking until next March.

Senate Tries Moving Tax Extenders Package Before Election

By: Thursday June 14, 2012 10:34 am

The fiscal slope has several component parts, but one of the more overlooked ones is the series of what is colloquially known as “tax extenders,” those one-year tax breaks, usually for businesses, that are habitually extended. There’s a very good reason that these are only extended one year at a time – if you want to squeeze more campaign contributions out of business types, you have to show return on investment, and extending a tax break that saves their company millions every year – complete with the warnings that “without me as your champion in Congress, we may not be able to get this done” – does the trick.

Wind, Solar, Mass Transit Threatened By Expiring Year-End Measures

By: Wednesday December 21, 2011 7:30 am

The President showed up unscheduled at a White House briefing today to excoriate House Republicans for fouling up a Senate deal on a stopgap measure to extend the payroll tax cut, unemployment benefits and a doctor’s reimbursement fix. But there are a number of other measures that also will not get extended into next year, including the production tax credit for wind energy.

Super Committee Preparing Decent Burial

By: Sunday November 20, 2011 4:00 pm

I was on Mark Thompson’s show on Sirius XM radio on Friday, and I said at that time that there’s a better chance of Herman Cain knowing what he’s talking about on Libya than the Super Committee coming to a deal. And indeed, I will not be proven wrong. It’s clear that the Super Committee will go down to defeat as early as tomorrow, with an announcement that they could not reach agreement on a deficit reduction deal. In the end, there was no reason to reach a deal. There’s an election next year, and both sides want to use key elements to any deal in their pitch to voters; broadly speaking, Republicans want to be the party to protect your tax rates, and Democrats want to be the party to protect Medicare. Both those items were imperiled by a deal, so there could be no deal.

The gentle sobbing of Erskine Bowles and Alice Rivlin and Alan Simpson and Pete Domenici will be heard across the land.

Tax Bill Introduced in Senate; Includes Renewable Energy Provisions

By: Friday December 10, 2010 6:55 am

The bill wasn’t negotiable, until… it was. On the main points, the tax bill introduced by Harry Reid last night contains the main points outlined by President Obama – a two-year extension of the Bush tax cuts, a two-year extension of the estate tax at drastically low rates, a 13-month unemployment insurance extension, several refundable tax credits from the stimulus, and a payroll tax cut of 2%. But a whole host of tax extenders also made their way into the bill, particularly on the renewable energy side.

The Fattest Lame Duck in Captivity: 20 Bills Possible for Lame Duck Session

By: Tuesday September 28, 2010 4:00 pm

Think back to the last time the Senate passed 20 bills in a six weeks? I’m going to go ahead and say you can’t. And yet, this is what Democrats will have you believe is the plan for the lame duck session, after a midterm election that will leave them, in all likelihood, with a diminished majority. Maybe the first bill plans to add two months between November and December, because under current Senate rules there’s no way on Earth to do that.

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