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  • 1. PETERSON-PEW COMMISSION ON BUDGET REFORMCO-CHAIRS As Policymakers Search for the Right Fiscal Tool,BILL FRENZEL Peterson-Pew Commission’s New Fiscal Toolbox Can HelpTIM PENNYCHARLIE STENHOLM June 8, 2011COMMISSIONERS In recent weeks, there has been significant talk about using targets, triggers,BARRY ANDERSONROY ASH caps, and failsafes in order to get our fiscal situation under control – inCHARLES BOWSHER particular as policymakers like those involved in the Biden fiscal talksSTEVE COLL search for ways to couple a debt limit increase with deficit reduction. ThereDAN CRIPPENVIC FAZIO are plenty of tools available to help fix our broken budget, but whichWILLIAM GRADISON should we use? The new Fiscal Toolbox from the Peterson-PewWILLIAM GRAY, III Commission on Budget Reform (PPC) offers guidance in choosing the rightWILLIAM HOAGLANDDOUGLAS HOLTZ-EAKIN instrument.JIM JONESLOU KERR “We have lots of tools to choose from here – everything from spendingJIM KOLBEJAMES MCINTYRE, JR. limits to balanced budget rules to debt targets,” said CRFB President andDAVID MINGE PPC Commissioner Maya MacGuineas. “As we look at these various toolsJIM NUSSLE to control our debt, its important we use the right ones.”MARNE OBERNAUER, JR.JUNE O’NEILLRUDOLPH PENNER The Peterson-Pew Commission, (www.budgetreform.org), comprised of aPETER G. PETERSONROBERT REISCHAUER bipartisan group of leading budget experts, has studied process tools likeALICE RIVLIN targets and triggers for over two years and recommended a suite ofCHARLES ROBB reforms, including debt and savings targets to spur action, and spendingMARTIN SABOGENE STEUERLE caps to enforce a budget deal once it is in place. The Fiscal Toolbox is theDAVID STOCKMAN latest resource from the Peterson-Pew Commission, which compares thePAUL VOLCKER various mechanisms out there on a variety of measures.CAROL COX WAITDAVID M. WALKERJOSEPH WRIGHT, JR. “No one knows the perfect process changes to control the debt, and every option has advantages and disadvantages,” said MacGuineas. “What wePRESIDENTMAYA MACGUINEAS need to do is take the best parts of each plan to design the tool that will best help policymakers to bring the debt under control.” 1899 L Street NW • Suite 400 • Washington, DC 20036 • Phone: 202-986-2700 • Fax: 202-986-3696 • www.crfb.org
  • 2. The Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget Targets, Triggers and Caps Comparison Grid Peterson-Pew Fiscal Commission President Obama Corker- Balanced Budget Sustainable Debt Peterson-Pew Caps Bipartisan Policy Center Debt Stabilization Debt Failsafe McCaskill CAP Amendments Act (Longer-Term) SAVEGO Process Trigger Act (S.J.Res. 10)* (Medium-Term) Stabilize the debt to Stabilize the debt-to- Stabilize the debt Limit federal Eliminate the deficit and Goals GDP ratio to 60% or Limit drivers of the debt Save agreed upon amount GDP ratio to GDP ratio spending limit federal spending below Limits spending Balances the budget and Sets annual savings targets Sets annual savings After a budget plan has Uses rules to force Ensures stable or to 20.6% of limits outlays to 18% of for discretionary spending, targets by statute been put in place, limits action if budget is declining debt to GDP by the end GDP, beginning five health care, and other based on glide path Social Security, health projected to fall short of GDP ratio in of the decade fiscal years after mandatory/revenue Description intended to bring spending, and tax primary balance in second half of (GDP calculated ratification initially crafted to achieve debt to 60% of GDP expenditures to the 2015, or is projected to decade (or average based on a fiscal target (60% by the end of the amount that has been (or found to) rise as a deficit to GDP average of the (in addition, no debt/GDP for BPC’s decade budgeted for share of GDP after 2015 ratio of 2.8%) first 3 of the 4 legislation can increase illustrative plan) previous years) taxes) Prohibition on Across the board 3/5 majority requirement consideration of any Sequestration for Across the board spending to increase the debt legislation that discretionary spending, Enforcement spending cuts and Automatic adjustments Across the board sequestration ceiling increases gross automatic spending cuts Mechanism if revenue increases to Social Security, tax cuts on selected spending or reduces and revenue increases for Targets Not (possibly including expenditures, and health spending and tax 2/3 vote point of (Congress may enact gross taxes health care and for other Reached tax expenditure care spending expenditures order preventing additional enforcement mandatory spending & reductions) spending above to ensure (Additional fail-safes revenue the cap implementation) can be considered) None Exempts Social Specified Courts cannot require Security, MedicareExemptions from Exempts Social Security if increase in revenue to Adjustments cannot None None benefits, and None Enforcement scored as solvent enforce balanced budget exceed 1% of GDP in means- tested Mechanism requirement a given year programs Majority vote allows Unspecified 2/3 additional spending or mechanism to supermajority Triggers waived after Process suspended if deficits during war and ensure trigger does vote allows two consecutive nominal GDP grows by 3/5 vote for “serious not exacerbate spending cap toSpecified Escape quarters of negative less than 1% or a joint military threat to national None economic None be exceeded Valves real GDP growth or a resolution declares it security” downturn or similar measure of would exacerbate an interfere with Emergency economic weakness economic downturn 2/3 supermajority vote national security spending is allows any provision to emergency exempt from cap be waived 1899 L STREET NW • SUITE 400 • W ASHINGTON, DC 20036 • PHONE : 202-986-2700 • FAX: 202-986-3696 • WWW. CRFB. ORG
  • 3. The Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget Peterson-Pew Fiscal Commission President Obama Corker- Balanced Budget Sustainable Debt Peterson-Pew Caps Bipartisan Policy Center Debt Stabilization Debt Failsafe McCaskill CAP Amendments Act (Longer-Term) SAVEGO Process Trigger Act (S.J.Res. 10)* (Medium-Term) Debt/GDP and Entitlement Spending Deficit/GDP and Debt/GDP and Deficits andWhat is Targeted? Debt/GDP and Savings Spending/GDP Savings and Tax Expenditure Debt/GDP Deficit/GDP Spending/GDP Is the Purpose to Force Action or Force and Enforce Enforce Enforce Force Force Force ForceEnforce Decisions? Temporary butIs the Mechanism replaced with new Permanent until new Temporary until savings Temporary or Permanent Temporary Permanent Permanent targets once initial budget enacted goal is reached Permanent goal is metDoes Enforcement MechanismInclude Automatic Changes to Both Both Neither Both Both Spending Neither Revenue,Spending, Both, or Neither? Are Tax Expenditures Yes Yes Unspecified Yes Yes No NoTreated Similarly to Spending? Yes, a requirement for Yes, opportunity for both the President’s Yes, a requirement that Congress to revisit Budget and Is Proposal the President transmits a policies, and the Congressional BudgetAccompanied by a budget which holds President to exercise Unspecified Resolution include Unspecified No No Process to outlays at or below enhanced rescission proposals to stabilizeFacilitate Success? revenue and below 18 authority, if targets the debt and a fast-track percent of GDP are not met process for legislation that does so * Numerous balanced budget amendments have been proposed in the current Congress. Used here as an example is S.J.Res. 10, which is co-sponsored by all 47 Senate Republicans. For a more detailed list of balanced budget amendments and their provisions, go to http://crfb.org/blogs/scales-tip-among-senate-gop- balanced-budget-amendment. 1899 L STREET NW • SUITE 400 • W ASHINGTON, DC 20036 • PHONE : 202-986-2700 • FAX: 202-986-3696 • WWW. CRFB. ORG