Deficit Feed

Did you take a quick trip over the Memorial Day long weekend? If so, you probably drove. But when it comes to longer vacation jaunts this summer, many of us will fly. Yes, despite current boarding hassles and new charges for in-flight amenities, air travel still is preferred for longer excursions. And adding more fiscal injury to those flying insults is the possibility that we soon could be paying more for our airline tickets. President Obama's fiscal year 2014 budget includes an increase in the aviation security fee, generally known as the passenger security tax that supports the Transportation Security... Read more →


The federal debt is at more than $16.8 trillion and counting. In less than two weeks, the amount of money that Uncle Sam can borrow to pay his (our) bills will need to be increased. The Treasury Department has said it can take "extraordinary measures" to cover the federal debt, giving us a bit more time beyond May 19 when we technically hit the debt ceiling. But the debt ceiling debate is heating up. Debt fight resumes: The Republican-controlled House this week may take up the Full Faith and Credit Act. This measure would allow the Treasury to take on... Read more →


Donating money to help reduce the federal debt is one of the more unusual charitable tax deductions. It's also today's Daily Tax Tip. Long-time readers know I have blogged about this before, but the federal deficit is getting more attention nowadays, thanks in large part to a group of Senators and Representatives for whom stanching the flow of the country's red ink is paramount. These members of Congress don't want the federal government to raise taxes to help reduce the ever-growing national debt, which as I type is $16,784,854,240,304. Check out USDebtClock.org to see how much it has already increased.... Read more →


The wide ranging federal budget cuts known as sequestration have been in place for a month now and some folks definitely are starting to feel the effects. It's possible that Congress could come up with a budget that would ameliorate some of the $85 billlion in sequester pain being felt across the country. But don't expect it to be an easy process. Several fiscal year 2014 budget proposals have been released so far, including the Republican version from the House (Rep. Paul Ryan's "The Path to Prosperity") and the Democratic proposal out of the Senate (Sen. Patty Murray's "Foundation for... Read more →


President Obama's been making the rounds on Capitol Hill, trying to woo supporters for a grand bargain, a bipartisan agreement to reduce the deficit. The problem is that both Democrats and Republicans are still entrenched in their traditional approaches to dealing with the country's finances. The GOP wants to take an almost total spending reduction route. Dems want to add some new revenue, aka taxes, to the mix. As part of his effort to get the loyal opposition at least talking, Obama visited Capitol Hill on Wednesday (March 13) and met with the House Republican Conference. Seven GOP Representatives got... Read more →


Republicans in the House and Democrats in the Senate today unveiled their budgets for Fiscal Year 2014, which begins Oct. 1. Each side declared the other's proposal dead on arrival. The president was supposed to have, by law, delivered his budget on the first Monday in February. In case you don't have a calendar handy, that was Feb. 4. But the White House now says it will have its financial wish list ready on April 8. That date is significant because it's the day that Congress returns to work after its spring break. Capitol Hill watchers speculate that the Administration's... Read more →


'Obama' explains sequester effects on Saturday Night Live

We're starting our first full week of sequestration 2013. Before the $85 billion in spending cuts kicked in on March 1, the White House issued fact sheets detailing what sequester might mean to each state. For folks who haven't read those predictions yet, Saturday Night Live's Obama, portrayed by Jay Pharoah, boils down what areas might suffer in this weekend's opening skit. Now I dare you to try to make it through the rest of the day without the Village People's "YMCA" playing on a continuous loop in your head! You also might find these items of interest: Despite sequester,... Read more →


Actually, tax reform will be H.R. 1. Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) has reserved that numerical designation for rewriting the tax code, according to The Hill newspaper's On the Money blog. Boehner has dibs on the first 10 bill numbers for the 113th Congress, but H.R. 1 generally is reserved for a signature legislative issue by the party that controls the House. "Reforming our tax code to get our economy going again and create jobs is a top priority for House Republicans,” Boehner spokesman Michael Steel told blogger Bernie Becker. Talking tax reform: It seems that tax reform, or at least... Read more →


President Obama is working on his annual budget, but we know one thing that he won't be asking Congress to approve: construction of a Death Star. Death Star by Krischan at Blitz Research Planet Creator forum The main reason is because building a "Star Wars" style space station/super weapon would cost an estimated $850,000,000,000,000,000. The Lehigh University students who arrived at that spectacular amount say it is roughly 13,000 times the world's gross domestic product and is for just the steel needed to complete the project. $850 quadrillion (yes, I looked up the name for 15 zeros) also is this... Read more →


Assume crash positions, people. We are going over the fiscal cliff. The Senate is still working on a proposal to deal with the expiring/expired tax provisions that are part of the fiscal cliff. The House, however, has called it a day. Regardless of what the Senate might do later today, the House will vote on it tomorrow at the earliest. So technically, we're all part of the Wyle E. Coyote cartoon family, dropping helplessly into a financial canyon. Cliff jump courtesy surfbunny.tumblr.com.. Realistically speaking, it won't matter that much if the final tax deal is done at 11:59 p.m. tonight... Read more →


You've got to give House Speaker John Boehner credit. He's united a diverse group of lawmakers, lobbyists and policy groups in their disdain for his fiscal cliff Plan B solution. House Speaker John Boehner making a fiscal cliff point on the House floor, Dec. 13, 2012. Photo courtesy the Speaker's office. So what's got folks shaking their heads? Among the proposals highlighted on the Speaker's web page are: Permanently extend the current income tax rates -- 10 percent to 35 percent -- for everyone making less than $1 million; for millionaires and more, the top rate would be the 39.6... Read more →


Could it be? Could the country be slowly backing away from the fiscal cliff? Late Friday, House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) proposed a tax-rate increase -- mark it down; it was a first! -- on individuals with income of more than $1 million. The fact that the leader of the Republicans in the House has made such a move earns his $1 million earnings threshold By the Numbers honors, a day late (it was a crazy weekend!) and, based on my bank account, $999,999 short. Raising the top tax bracket from the $200,000 for singles, $250,000 for families top tax... Read more →


This weekend I was sorting through some stories on the difficulty that Congress has in reaching an agreement on tax issues. I know, you wish you had my life, right? Here are some headlines that caught my eye. Now here's the really interesting thing. Only one of these five assessments of Congressional tax deliberations is from 2012. Can you figure out which is the most current? It's the fourth one, "Guessing at the law." That's the headline on a story in the September 2012 issue of Accounting Today about the trouble we're all having in trying to make year-end tax... Read more →


As I drove my mother home after Thanksgiving, I wanted to kick myself for not stopping first at the Shell station near my home to fill up. Pete's Route 66 Gas Station Museum, Williams, Ariz., by Loco Steve/Flickr I had plenty of fuel to make it the 50 miles. But I should have topped off to take advantage of the station's regular gas that was going for $3.09 a gallon. I felt increasingly stupid as we sped past gas station after gas station with signs announcing $3.12 then $3.15 then $3.19 per gallon prices. Then I drove into her small... Read more →


You know it's a wacky election year when folks from disparate parts of the political world start seeing things the same way. Bill Kristol, editor of the neocon Weekly Standard, agrees with my assessment from almost a year and half ago that the Republican Party needs to know when to learn out to declare victory and run with it. The newly reelected President Obama has said he's willing to work on changes to some federal domestic programs, known as entitlements in the spending hawks' dictionary, but that for his part he wants the top two Bush income tax rates to... Read more →


When Congress agreed to a temporary increase in the federal debt ceiling in August 2011, lawmakers agreed to provisions to reduce the deficit by $2.3 trillion over 10 years. The optimal solution was for a bipartisan Congressional super committee to reach a spending cut and tax increase deal. But just in case that didn't happen, the Budget Control Act of 2011 called for across-the-board automatic spending cuts, known as sequestration, to take effect in January 2013. Surely, it was argued, such a drastic financial possibility, combined with expired and expiring tax laws and election year pressures would force Representatives and... Read more →


While Congress was marking time last week until it could recess until after the election, it spent its valuable limited time some important pieces of legislation. Not. Aside from a bill to keep the government running through March 27, 2013, the House and Senate bandied about politically themed measures to highlight their partisan positions on jobs, the economy and, of course, taxes. The best, or worst, example of this was the Buffett Rule bill that cleared the House. This Republican version of Obama's proposal that millionaires pay a tax rate of at least 30 percent calls for voluntary contributions to... Read more →


Before Representatives and Senators slipped out of Washington, D.C., for their extended election year recess frenetic campaigning district work period, we got one hint about what not to expect in January. House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D.-Calif.) said that the payroll tax holiday should be allowed to expire at the end of this year. What? A member of the Democratic leadership saying it's time to drop a tax cut that was one of President Obama's most widely recognized legislative victories? You do remember in late December 2011 how he stood down the Republicans who led the fight against the 2... Read more →


A little over a year ago, the House and Senate failed to reach a deal on how to cut the federal deficit by $1.2 trillion over 10 years. In the wake of that epic Congressional fail, bipartisan majorities in both chambers voted for sequestration, a financial threat that was supposed to force lawmakers to eventually act. That threat also appears to have failed. Sequestration, or automatic across-the-board cuts applied equally to defense and nondefense programs, is set to kick in on Jan. 2, 2013. How bad will the budget cuts be? Pretty bad, because, as the 394-page Office of Management... Read more →


Newly minted Republican vice presidential candidate Paul Ryan voted in 1999 to repeal the Glass-Steagall Act. Its official name is The Banking Act of 1933 (it was enacted on the 16th of June 79 years ago), but I've always heard it referred to by the hyphenated-name of its Democratic sponsors, Sen. Carter Glass of Virginia and Rep. Henry B. Steagall of Alabama. The Glass-Steagall Act didn't make my Bankrate slideshow of eight more-recent pieces of financial legislation named after people who sponsored or inspired them. But the namesake gallery, which is this week's Weekly Tax Tip, does feature another famously-named... Read more →