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CBO Offers "Options"
Old 09-04-2009, 02:06 PM   #1
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CBO Offers "Options"

I admit that I do not know all that much about the workings of the CBO, so I found this part of an email that I received from MOAA quite intertesting~

Quote:
CBO Offers New COLA, Pay, Benefits "Options"
Last fall, the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) put out a book of budget options for consideration by the new Congress to increase or cut spending on health care issues, including an option to charge TRICARE For Life beneficiaries thousands of dollars a year. In the end, the President's budget didn't include any of the military health care options.

Now, CBO has come out with Volume 2 of its budget options book (PDF), outlining possible ways Congress might hike or cut spending on military force levels, military pay and benefits, VA disability compensation, Social Security, COLAs, and taxes.
Here's a selection of some of the options listed in the new CBO publication.
Army manpower: One option envisions adding 23,000 to "fully staff the active Army," as recommended in the Senate version of the FY2010 Defense Authorization Bill (S. 1390). Another would roll back recent increases and cut 65,000 from the active duty Army and 9,200 from the Army Reserve.

Military Pay Raise: This option would cap military pay raises .5% below private sector pay growth for each of the next five years and have the services offer additional bonuses as needed to meet specific skill needs.

Commissaries and Exchanges: This option would consolidate all service commissaries and exchanges into a single retail system and raise prices by 5%. Instead of subsidizing commissaries, DoD would provide active-duty servicemembers who receive subsistence allowances (but not retirees or reservists) a tax-free grocery allowance of $600 per year.

Retired Pay/VA COLAs: This option would base the annual COLA adjustment for federal and military retired pay and VA disability compensation on the chained consumer price index for all urban consumers (CPI-U) instead of the current CPI-W (for all urban wage earners and clerical workers). CBO estimates this would depress COLAs by about .3% per year, which would be particularly disadvantageous for beneficiaries who retire earlier and live longer.

Social Security: Various options would raise the Social Security retirement age to 70, base benefit calculations on price changes rather than earnings changes, base COLAs on the chained CPI-U, reduce spousal annuities by one-third, or increase the maximum taxable earnings amount for current workers, among other ideas.
VA Disability Compensation: This option would reduce VA disability compensation by the amount of any Social Security Disability Insurance received.
Income Taxes: Options range from permanently extending some or all of the tax cuts approved in recent years or reducing the number of taxpayers subject to the Alternative Minimum Tax to raising tax rates by 1 percentage point for various segments of the population, limiting charitable deductions, or extending charitable deduction eligibility to taxpayers who donít itemize.

For perspective, CBO publishes these options books for each new Congress. Relatively few of the ideas in them have ended up getting enacted. Many are rehashes of ideas put forward many times in the past.

At this late stage of the legislative year, we don't expect them to get serious consideration for FY2010.

But as federal budgets tighten and deficits deepen in the years ahead, it's virtually certain that we'll have to contend with renewed threats to pay raises, COLAs, commissaries and TRICARE fees - and more -- down the road.
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Old 09-04-2009, 06:07 PM   #2
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I wasn't very aware of the CBO either, got a little more exposure to it through the Health Care reports.

I think this excerpt is really interesting, the output of a non-partisan group is ignored:

Quote:
Relatively few of the ideas in them have ended up getting enacted. Many are rehashes of ideas put forward many times in the past.
I'd have to dig up the link, but I posted on the non (bi?)-partisan committee on tax reform. While I think it needs to be scrapped and started from scratch, they had a pretty down-to-earth checklist of items that could be done to greatly simplify the current tax minefield. I don't think a single issue has been implemented, mostly just the opposite.

There is a radio ad for Anderson window replacements. I'm always struck that the ending line in the ad is "consult your tax adviser, Anderson is *not* a tax adviser". Why the heck should should I need to consult a tax adviser to buy some windows (I know, because of the energy credits - but geez, that just seems crazy).

It seems that when one party is in power, they ram through all the legislation they can to support their approach - and when the other party is in power, they do the same. We end up with a bunch of contrary and counter-productive laws. If only the non-partisan stuff got through, I'd bet we would have a lot less government, and it would be in areas that might make a positive difference for the country.

CBO for President, and Congress!

-ERD50
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Old 09-05-2009, 01:13 PM   #3
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Quote:
It seems that when one party is in power, they ram through all the legislation they can to support their approach - and when the other party is in power, they do the same.
Good observation ERD.

In my lifetime, I believe that this is the way that it has always happened, regardless of which political party is in the majority. Then they proceed to pass (or try to pass) extreme legislation for 2 years since they know that this is their window of opportunity. They are then thrown out of power, and the cycle begins anew. What a country.

As Winston Churchhill once mused ~“Democracy is the worst form of government except for all of those others that have been tried.”
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