(Fiscal) new year's resolutions

What changes can we hope for in Fiscal Year 2011?

Lefteris Pitarakis / AP / File
Fireworks explode in central London during the New Year's celebrations, early Friday, Jan. 1, 2010. America's fiscal new year began on Oct. 1. What resolutions should the government make for the next 12 months?

As my boss, Bob Bixby, notes, we’ve just started a new fiscal year (FY2011) last Friday, but we didn’t exactly get to “party like it’s 2010″ (when expensive policies are scheduled to expire). Seriously, a few years ago I had a lot of faith that we would have enacted some meaningful reforms by now, especially on the tax side given the “action forcing event” of the scheduled expiration of the Bush tax cuts. But “change” has been minimal on the fiscal policy front, even with changes in who’s in charge.

Bob came up with this great list of (fiscal) New Year’s Resolutions, Concord Coalition-style:

[I]t seems like a good time to make some New Year’s resolutions. Here are a few suggestions:

  • First, the President’s bipartisan fiscal commission should resolve to overcome partisan differences and produce a plan for long-term deficit reduction.
  • Second, the President should resolve to make deficit reduction the main focus of his Fiscal Year 2012 budget, allowing for a phase-in period as the economy recovers.
  • Third, Congress should resolve to pass a budget resolution next year, something it failed to do this year. And that resolution should contain a realistic strategy for reducing the deficit, including discretionary spending cuts, phased-in entitlement reforms, revenue increases and an enforcement mechanism to back it up.
  • Fourth, the media and the public should resolve to keep the pressure on politicians to produce solutions that add up. No more “fuzzy math” evasions should be tolerated on the campaign trail or in the halls of Congress.
  • And finally, the public must resolve to accept that sacrifices will be required to ensure a more prosperous future. Don’t blame the politicians for failing to make responsible choices if they are only rewarded at the polls for making irresponsible promises.

If these resolutions are made and met, we might have more reason to cheer when the next fiscal new year comes around.

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