Paul M. Krawzak

Despite the Rhetoric, Congress Is Unlikely to Tackle Deficit, Entitlements
CQ Budget Podcast, Episode 83

The rising deficit, the president’s request for 5 percent in budget cuts and discussions of needing to trim Medicaid, Medicare and Social Security set off a storm of debate just three weeks before the midterms. Roll Call's senior Senate reporter Niels Lesniewski, senior CQ budget reporter Paul M. Krawzak and co-host Jennifer Shutt explain why Congress is unlikely to deal with any of it.

Democratic Unity on Budget Faces Tests in New Congress
What flavor of nationalized health care can the party agree to — if any?

If voters give Democrats control of the House in November, they’ll get a chance to write the first left-leaning budget blueprint since 2009 in that chamber.

That would give Democrats an opportunity to show through the tax and spending blueprint how they want to address rising deficits, insolvency projections for social safety net programs, and get a jump on their 2020 message.

Outside Kavanaugh Cacophony, Congress Faces Looming Deadline on Government Spending
Despite steady progress this year, lawmakers have little time to pass funding bills

The multiday media circus surrounding the confirmation hearings of Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh notwithstanding, Congress is facing a Sept. 30 deadline to fund the government, with appropriators struggling to work out their differences on fiscal 2019 spending. 

There are only 11 legislative days this month when the House and Senate are both scheduled to be in session. That means there isn’t much floor time in either chamber to vote on what could be as many as three conference reports with spending totaling more than $1 trillion, even if the legislation is privileged in the Senate and the House limits debate.

Appropriations Rush Before Midterms
CQ Budget, Episode 75

With the fiscal year ending Sept. 30 and midterm elections just around the corner, Republicans hope to pass nine spending bills to tout on the campaign trail. CQ senior budget reporter Paul M. Krawzak explains why that might be a heavy lift. ...
Record Debt Pile by 2029 if Tax Cuts, Budget Deal Extended, CBO Says
Congressional scorekeeper assumed future lawmakers will extend temporary provisions

Federal debt would be about one and one half times the size of the economy within 20 years under an alternative fiscal scenario from the Congressional Budget Office that assumes Congress will continue the recent tax cuts and spending increases enacted over the past year.

Debt held by the public, which excludes debt held by government accounts including the Social Security and Medicare trust funds, would top the previous World War II-era record of 106 percent of gross domestic product by fiscal 2029 under the CBO’s “extended alternative fiscal scenario,” released Wednesday.

House Conservatives Could Tank a Quick Fall Spending Push
Pre-election passage could leave them without bargaining chips in lame-duck immigration fight, they fear

House Republican conservatives are mulling a plan to try to sink passage of a combined spending package for the Pentagon, education, health care and worker assistance programs before the elections.

They fear enactment of the Defense and Labor-HHS-Education measures — the two largest appropriations bills with the highest priority programs for Republicans and Democrats, respectively — would leave conservatives with little leverage in a lame-duck session fight over immigration and border security.

Senate Appropriator: More Border Wall Money Possible in House-Senate Talks
Capito says she could support spending up to $5 billion

The top Senate appropriator with jurisdiction over Department of Homeland Security funding thinks there is room to put more money into President Donald Trump’s top budget priority: his proposed wall along the U.S.-Mexico border.

Sen. Shelley Moore Capito, R-W.Va., said this week she could support spending up to $5 billion on the border wall, as Trump has informally requested, even though that is three times the $1.6 billion her subcommittee's fiscal 2019 spending bill would allocate for the wall.

Podcast: Ticking Debt Bomb
CQ Budget, Episode 67

BY DAVID LERMAN AND PAUL M. KRAWZAK

The Congressional Budget Office recently issued an alarming report on the nation's debt outlook, which CQ senior budget reporter Paul M. Krawzak says should worry millennials.

CBO: US Debt Burden Set to Break Record in Early 2030s
Growing deficits to push debt to almost 100 percent of GDP by 2028

Debt as a share of the United States economy is on track to blow through the previous World War II-era record within two decades and keep rising from there, the Congressional Budget Office said in its annual long-term budget report.

Generally assuming no change in current laws, growing budget deficits would push debt held by the public from the current level of 78 percent of the economy to almost 100 percent of gross domestic product by 2028, and to 152 percent of GDP by 2048, according to the agency.

House Budget Would Direct $302 Billion in 10-Year Spending Cuts
‘Three-step process to give to the rich and make everyone else pay for it,’ Democrats say

House Budget Chairman Steve Womack’s fiscal 2019 budget resolution charts a path to balancing the budget in nine years through a combination of steep cuts in mandatory spending programs, freezing nondefense discretionary spending and banking on robust economic growth, according to a summary.

Under the draft fiscal blueprint, which will be marked up in committee Wednesday and Thursday, the deficit would be reduced by $8.1 trillion over 10 years compared to current law or policy. The budget would produce a surplus of $26 billion in 2027 if all of the assumed policies were enacted, growing to $142 billion in 2028.

Medicare Finances Worsen but Social Security Projections Stable
Changes by Congress to tax law, entitlements affect projections

The Social Security system is in almost the same shape as last year for its retirement benefits and in a better position for its disability benefits, the program’s trustees reported Tuesday. But a separate report for Medicare paints a somewhat bleaker outlook for the giant health program for seniors and people with disabilities, estimating that its hospital trust fund will dry up in 2026 — three years earlier than last year’s projections.

Medicare’s board of trustees attributed the change, in part, to lower payroll taxes and higher-than-expected health care spending in 2017.

Rescissions Package On Hold While GOP Deliberates
GAO delivers relatively good news, even as schedule slips

Congressional auditors delivered some good news for the White House and House GOP leaders on Tuesday, saying in a report that President Donald Trump’s $15.2 billion spending cuts proposal mostly meets tests laid out in the 1974 statute establishing the “rescissions” process — even as leaders decided to put off consideration of the package until next month. 

The Government Accountability Office found that two Transportation Department accounts slated for $134 million in cuts can’t legally be “impounded,” or blocked by the administration during the initial 45-day period after submission of the requests to Congress. The rest of the cuts, including rescissions from mandatory spending accounts like the Children’s Health Insurance Program, are allowed to go forward under the 1974 law establishing the modern rescissions process, according to the GAO.

CBO Sees $804 Billion 2018 Deficit, $1 Trillion Gap By 2020
Tax cuts, omnibus deal are big drivers of red ink

The deficit is estimated to climb to $804 billion this year and $981 billion in fiscal 2019, hitting $1 trillion in 2020 and topping $1.5 trillion in 2028, the Congressional Budget Office said in a report Monday.

In their latest semiannual budget and economic outlook, CBO said debt held by the public will rise to $15.7 trillion in fiscal 2018 and continue to grow, hitting $28.7 trillion or 96 percent of the size of the economy in 2028.

Omnibus Bill in Sight After ‘Big Four’ Meet to Iron Out Kinks
Finishing touches on $1.3 trillion package being applied

Congressional leaders and the White House have reached a preliminary deal on a roughly $1.3 trillion fiscal 2018 omnibus appropriations bill. GOP and Democratic aides were putting the finishing touches on the mammoth package and were expected to file it later Wednesday morning for House floor consideration.

Some issues remain unresolved as of Wednesday morning, requiring leadership attention.

Budget Watchdog Sees $2 Trillion Deficits Within 10 Years

The federal deficit could hit $1.1 trillion next year and $1.7 trillion in fiscal 2028, piling on debt that exceeds the size of the economy by the end of the decade, according to a Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget report released Friday.

If Congress extends individual tax cuts beyond their scheduled expiration and continues to raise discretionary spending levels above statutory caps, the debt will grow even faster, reaching $33 trillion or 113 percent of gross domestic product by fiscal 2028, the CRFB analysis said. Under that scenario, annual deficits would top $2 trillion within 10 years.

Womack Picks Bush White House Veteran as Budget Staff Director
Dan Keniry will replace Rick May and start on Feb. 20

Dan Keniry, a lobbyist and former legislative aide, has been named the new staff director of the House Budget Committee and will start Feb. 20.

Keniry was deputy assistant for legislative affairs to President George W. Bush, where he was principal liaison to the House. Keniry earlier worked as staff director of the House Rules Committee and a senior floor assistant to then-Speaker J. Dennis Hastert, R-Ill.

House Appropriators Ready to Carve Up Budget Deal
Side deal among leaders would divide spending, and could divide members

A side agreement among congressional leaders to allocate some of the new nondefense funding to opioid abuse prevention, infrastructure and several other priorities is complicating the plan to write a fiscal 2018 omnibus.

Even if that weren’t the case, appropriators say they don’t like being micromanaged.

House Passes Stopgap Bill as Hill Leaders Work on Spending Caps
Work on a longer-term deal is ongoing

The House passed legislation Tuesday to extend agency operating budgets at current levels for another six weeks, as congressional leaders worked behind closed doors to shape a longer-term deal that could dramatically boost discretionary spending across the government.

The House vote was 245-182 on the temporary spending bill, which would also provide a full year’s worth of Pentagon appropriations as well as a package of health care funding extensions. There were 17 Democrats backing the measure, while eight Republicans opposed it.

Despite Challenges, Broad Budget Deal Starts to Take Shape
Agreement would raise caps for defense and nondefense programs

Negotiators are close to an agreement on a budget deal that would raise discretionary spending caps by upwards of $300 billion over two years and provide billions of dollars more for nondefense programs that are outside the constraints of the caps.

Republican and Democratic staff with knowledge of the talks said it’s possible but not assured a deal could be reached as early as today and attached to the House stopgap spending bill Wednesday or Thursday. The House spending package, introduced Monday night, is headed to the floor of that chamber for a vote Tuesday afternoon as an amendment to an unrelated bill.

Podcast: Another Stopgap Coming as Congress Readies to Spend, Spend, Spend
CQ Budget, Episode 47

Negotiations to keep the government funded beyond Feb. 8 are underway, as lawmakers prepare to add even more to the nation's credit card, say CQ's senior budget reporter Paul M. Krawzak and appropriations reporter Jennifer Shutt. Also, the race heats up for the next chair of the powerful House Appropriations Committee.