Department of the Treasury

The Debt Ceiling: Why Obama Should Just Ignore It
June 24, 2011

With a Republican-controlled House demanding large cuts in present and future spending in exchange for an increase in the debt ceiling, the possibility that the federal government will have trouble financing and issuing new debt is becoming more frighteningly likely each day. Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner, CBO chief Doug Elmendorf, and Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke have all encouraged Congress in strong terms to resolve the debt ceiling stand-off before the creditworthiness of the United States is jeopardized.

Boehner: Pro-Tax Evasion, Pro-Deficits
April 11, 2011

The final details of Friday's eleventh-hour agreement on 2011 federal spending are still emerging. But Speaker Boehner is bragging about one concession he won. President Obama's original budget request would have given the Treasury Department money to hire additional agents for the Internal Revenue Service. The Republicans killed that provision. "The Obama administration has sought increased federal funding for the Internal Revenue Service (IRS)--money that could be used to hire additional agents to enforce the administration’s agenda on a variety of issues," the Speaker's office announced.

Daley, Sperling, and Obama 2.0
January 06, 2011

Multiple media outlets are reporting that President Obama today will name William Daley as his new chief of staff, which means I've missed my chance to weigh in on him. Both Jon Chait and Ezra Klein have expressed misgivings about Daley and I share them.

Game of Chicken
December 30, 2010

The tax-cut war is over for now. “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” repeal has been signed into law. The New START treaty has been ratified. But another big battle between Democrats and Republican is looming. The subject is something most Americans have likely never heard of—the debt ceiling. And, unlike the lame-duck battles that somehow found their way to happy conclusions, this one could very easily end in disaster. The debt ceiling does exactly what it sounds like it does: It caps the total amount of money the government is allowed to owe.

Whither Go the BABs?
December 22, 2010

Without an extension by the end of December, the 2 year old Build America Bond (BAB) program will expire. As of this writing, both the Senate and House tax bills failed to include BABs as part of their packages. The program, which was birthed as part of the stimulus package, authorizes state and local governments to issue these bonds to finance pretty much any kind of infrastructure project.

Why Tax Reform Has To Wait Until The Second Term
December 10, 2010

The New York Times' Jackie Calmes reports that the Obama administration is thinking about some kind of bipartisan tax reform: President Obama is considering whether to push early next year for an overhaul of the income tax code to lower rates and raise revenues in what would be his first major effort to begin addressing the long-term growth of the national debt. While administration officials cautioned on Thursday that no decisions have been made and that any debate in Congress could take years, Mr.

The Irony of Wikileaks
December 01, 2010

There’s no question that many of the Wikileaks documents are a great read. These diplomatic conversations between American officials and leaders from the Arab world, China, and Europe provide important insights about the subtleties of U.S. policy and the complexities of dealing with different personalities and governments around the world. But the disclosures are not just interesting; they are also ironic. That’s because they undermine the very worldview that Julian Assange and his colleagues at Wikileaks almost certainly support.

What Is Moderate Islam?
August 11, 2010

Is the “Ground Zero Imam,” Feisal Abd ar-Rauf, a moderate Muslim? I do not know. I have yet to read his books or peruse his speeches and sermons in all the languages that Mr. Rauf uses. Some of his short essays and interviews in English suggest that he is a preacher of moderate disposition and views.

Why Elizabeth Warren Will Likely Be Confirmed
July 27, 2010

Last week, Senate Banking Committee Chairman Chris Dodd aroused the ire of progressive activists when he wondered whether Elizabeth Warren, the former Harvard Law professor who is a leading candidate to head the new Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, would be “confirmable.” “There’s a serious question about it,” he said on NPR’s “Diane Rehm Show.” Dodd’s concern is legitimate given that a mere 41 votes can block action in the Senate, and that the GOP has been willing to filibuster even seemingly popular proposals.

Warren Has No Experience? Says Who?
July 25, 2010

One of the big arguments against putting Elizabeth Warren in charge of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau is that she's supposedly not ready to lead such a new and important agency. As the argument goes, it's great that Warren has intelligence, passion, and charisma. The problem is that she lacks experience. As Neil Irwin reported recently in the Washington Post, critics question whether "Elizabeth Warren will be as effective a bureaucrat as she is as a guest on The Daily Show." As I wrote last week, it's an entirely legitimate argument. Or, at least, it would be...if it were true.