Category Archives: Budget – United States

Presidential Travel: Secret Service and DOD Need to Ensure That Expenditure Reports Are Prepared and Submitted to Congress

Source: U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO), GAO-19-178: Published: Jan 17, 2019. Publicly Released: Feb 5, 2019.

From the summary:
We were asked to examine the cost of 4 trips to the Mar-a-Lago resort by the President and 3 international trips by Donald Trump Jr. and Eric Trump between January and March 2017.

We estimate
– that federal agencies spent about $13.6 million for the Mar-a-Lago trips. The Departments of Defense and Homeland Security incurred most of the costs—about $8.5 million and $5.1 million, respectively. This excludes certain classified cost information.
– the Secret Service spent about $396,000 protecting the President’s sons and their spouses on 3 international trips.

We recommended that agencies comply with reporting requirements for protection costs.

FAQ: The impact of the government shutdown and of another potential impasse

Source: Rebecca Karnovitz, Atsi Sheth, Madhavi Bokil, William Foster, Nicholas Samuels, Bruce Herskovics, Anne Van Praagh, Moody’s, Sector In-Depth, January 28, 2019
(subscription required)

On January 25, US President Donald Trump signed a short-term spending bill to reopen the federal government of the United States (Aaa stable) until Feb. 15 while negotiations continue on his proposal to build a wall along the country’s southern border. If the impasse is not resolved in the next three weeks, the president said the government will either shut down again or he will use emergency powers under the US Constitution to move forward with his border security proposal. In this report, we answer some of the key questions about the credit effects of the 35-day partial government shutdown – the longest such closure in US history – and the potential ramifications of another shutdown…..

The Budget and Economic Outlook: 2019 to 2029

Source: Congressional Budget Office, pub. no. 54918, January 2019

From the summary:
In CBO’s projections, the federal budget deficit is about $900 billion in 2019 and exceeds $1 trillion each year beginning in 2022. Because of persistently large deficits, federal debt held by the public is projected to grow steadily, reaching 93 percent of GDP in 2029.

Real GDP is projected to grow by 2.3 percent in 2019—down from 3.1 percent in 2018—as the effects of the 2017 tax act on the growth of business investment wane and federal purchases decline sharply in the fourth quarter of 2019. Economic growth is projected to slow to an average of 1.7 percent through 2023 and to average 1.8 percent from 2024 to 2029.

Related:
Visual summary
Director’s statement

DC region, usually buttressed by federal presence, bears brunt of shutdown

Source: Nicholas Samuels,Timothy Blake, Matthew Butler, Pisei Chea, Marcia Van Wagner, Maria Matesanz, Moody’s, Sector Comment, January 24, 2019
(subscription required)

The federal government usually benefits the national capital region’s economy, driving high education and wealth levels, knowledge-based employment and providing a buffer during an economic downturn. But the partial federal shutdown, already the longest ever at five weeks, illustrates the drawbacks of the concentrated federal presence in the District of Columbia (DC) metro area, a significant contributor to the larger US economy. The DC area is absorbing the worst of the federal shutdown with missed pay for employees and private sector contractors reducing personal spending and tempering tax revenue for area governments. Federal workers will miss another payday January 25. In addition, public transit ridership has slowed, and operations at other government enterprises are experiencing disruption

Federal Workers: Shutdown and Out

Source: Saurav Sarkar, Labor Notes, January 18, 2019

What would you do if management could force you to work without pay, lock you out with no consequences, and fire you for going on strike?

That’s the situation facing 800,000 federal workers—and their unions—during the longest government shutdown in U.S. history.

Forty percent of the government’s civilian workforce besides postal workers are being deprived of money to pay for rent, gas, groceries, and car and student loan payments.

They include 420,000 workers who are being forced to work without pay and 380,000 who are locked out…..

Trump’s Tax Cuts: The Rich Get Richer

Source: Center for Public Integrity, 2019

An in-depth look at how the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act of 2017 avoided scrutiny and made the rich richer.

The first part in our new series, “Trump’s Tax Cuts: The Rich get Richer,”  investigating the origin and impact of the 2017 tax law: 

THE TRUMP TAX LAW HAS BIG PROBLEMS. HERE’S ONE BIG REASON WHY
Source: Peter Cary, Allan Holmes, Pratheek Rebala, Center for Public Integrity, January 15, 2019

There’s no shortage of agenda items for the new Congress that’s just been seated in Washington. But lost among the anguished cries to reopen the government and enact ethics reform will be a lesser-advertised but crucial item: addressing major problems in the 2017 tax bill that President Donald Trump signed into law a year ago.

That the law needs fixing is not in dispute. Why it needs fixing is most vividly illuminated by contrasting it with another massive piece of tax legislation, the Reagan-era Tax Reform Act of 1986.

In the months leading up to passage of the 2017 tax act, Trump administration officials and Republican leaders in Congress giddily compared the scope of their bill to that very law. House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Kevin Brady, R-Texas, called their new bill, “the first action in 31 years since President Reagan’s reforms in 1986.” Then-National Economic Director Gary Cohn said the legislation represented the “most significant tax reform legislation since 1986.”

Measured by the magnitude of changes to the tax code, that is true. But in terms of how the bills were developed, deliberated and drafted by Congress — not to mention their substance — the bills could not be less alike. And therein lies an illuminating — some would say frightening — story.

What are the costs of the government shutdown?

Source: Robert Polner, Futurity, January 16, 2019

The current government shutdown is now the longest on record, sidelining roughly 800,000 non-essential workers in nine agencies out of about two million full-time federal employees in all (excluding postal workers and soldiers). ….

…. The shutdown’s impact extends, Light estimates, to more than 4.1 million contract workers and grantees, as well as the hundreds of thousands of other workers. Like those non-critical workers sitting at home, contract workers, who are largely in service jobs, do not expect to be paid until Congress and the president come to an agreement to resume appropriations.

When they’ll achieve a compromise is anybody’s guess. The sticking point in this shutdown is the more than $5 billion in border-wall funding that President Trump has requested.

Meantime, fallout spreads: the appropriations freeze is bringing complications for traditional government services, from public-health inspections of food and environmental hazards to security screening.

Here, Light talks about the shutdown’s broad repercussions and if he can predict a possible end date: ….

The 2019 government shutdown is just the latest reason why poor people can’t bank on the safety net

Source: Jamila Michener, The Conversation, January 14, 2019

….People living in poverty are now bracing for that kind of chopping as a result of the partial government shutdown that began in December. By the three-week mark, most safety-net benefits were still being funded. But should the impasse drag on, that could change.

In my view, the added economic hardship brought on would highlight an enduring aspect of American public policy: Government benefits can be unreliable. They can be cut or eliminated arbitrarily….

How Major Programs Might Fare in a Partial Government Shutdown

Source: Federal Funds Information for States, Budget Brief 18-19, December 19, 2018
(subscription required)

From the summary:
The second fiscal year (FY) 2019 continuing resolution (CR)—which funds the portion of federal spending not covered by full-year spending bills enacted earlier this year—will expire on Friday. While Congress just announced an agreement on another short-term CR through February 8 and the president appears to support it, the risk of a federal shutdown likely will continue until a final budget is enacted.
Should a partial shutdown occur, state officials will have questions about their ability to operate federal grant programs in the absence of a current appropriation. The answers to those questions vary by program. FFIS Budget Brief 18-17 provides answers to general questions; this brief provides targeted summary information about specific grant programs.

Appendix: links to the sources of program-specific details