OMBlog

  • A New Round of Old Questions on Health Insurance Reform

    A Congressional Budget Office (CBO) letter released yesterday has sparked a new round of old questions about the cost of the recently enacted health insurance reform law, the Affordable Care Act. The letter simply updates CBO’s calculation of the size of discretionary authorizations included in the legislation.

  • America’s Got Talent (And We Need to Hire It)

    As I have written here before, in order to build a new foundation for economic growth, we need to change how Washington does business. We need to cut what doesn’t work and streamline what does so that we can create an effective and efficient federal government that is responsive to the needs of the American people.

  • Congress Presses Forward on Improper Payments

    Today, the House passed the Improper Payments Elimination and Recovery Act (IPERA), legislation that will help rein in improper payments and save taxpayer dollars. As I’ve written about before, "improper payment" is an umbrella term that covers a number of financial transactions — overpayments to individuals or firms is one example; benefit payments to ineligible program participants is another. That is to say, an improper payment occurs when the federal government pays the wrong amount, the wrong person, or at the wrong time. In 2009, taxpayers lost $98 billion in wasteful improper payments by the federal government to individuals, organizations, and contractors — with $54 billion of that amount stemming from Medicare and Medicaid. These errors and mistakes are unacceptable — and the passage of the IPERA bill is an important step forward in curbing these wasteful payments.

  • Laying the Path to Fiscal Responsibility

    The President formed the National Commission on Fiscal Responsibility and Reform because he believes that the path to fiscal stability begins with bi-partisan cooperation. Today, the Commission met with the President and held its first meeting, where I joined them to discuss the Nation’s unsustainable fiscal trajectory and the importance of the task before them.

  • Doing Business with Small Business

    Today, the President signed a memorandum outlining steps that will expand opportunities for small businesses to conduct business with the federal government. Small businesses are an important engine of job growth throughout the economy. That is why to boost economic growth and foster job creation, the Administration has undertaken already a number of initiatives – including through the Recovery Act – to boost small business lending and hiring.

  • Getting the Best Ideas from Outside Washington

    As the President has said time and again, the best ideas often come from outside Washington. A vivid example involves new technology and management techniques to make large organizations run more effectively and efficiently.

  • Numbers Count

    My blog post this morning prompted some questions from people who are comparing the Administration’s 2010 earmarks count with data released last month by the group Taxpayers for Common Sense (TCS). TCS does good work and is a respected outside voice. In this earmarks’ count, however, its analysis is a bit off.

  • Changing the Trend on Earmarks

    For too many years, the practice of congressional earmarking continued virtually unabated. During the 10-year period that ended in 2005, according to the Congressional Research Service, the number of earmarks skyrocketed, increasing by more than 400 percent and reaching a level of more than 16,000. This increase was particularly troubling because all too often, earmarks are an easy vehicle for special interest deal-making – inserted into congressional spending bills without filter for merit, need, priority, or any scrutiny by the public, the media, or other members of Congress.

  • OMB and Open Government

    When the President came into office, he underscored his commitment to changing the old ways of Washington by directing federal agencies to open government to the American people. In our first year in office, we have taken transformative steps that will permanently break down the barriers between the government and the citizens it serves.

  • Following Doctor’s Orders

    Since the President signed the health insurance reform bill into law last week and the reconciliation package into law this week, some critics have been carping that the bill does not do enough to constrain health care costs — or as OMBlog readers know it, "bend the curve."

  • SAVEings

    Today, DHS announced that it is changing the default setting for its payroll statements from paper to electronic. This means employees will receive their regular payroll data electronically instead of getting stacks of paper earnings statements by mail. By making e-statements the default option, while giving employees the option to opt out in favor of the paper statement, we hope to increase the percentage of federal employees who use this approach while saving the taxpayers’ money.

  • For the Reading List

    On Sunday, I wrote a post rebutting the last-minute charges that health insurance reform — despite CBO’s score — was fiscally irresponsible and loaded with budgeting and accounting gimmicks. Today, two former CBO officials now at the Center for Budget and Policy Priorities (CBPP) released their own, more detailed analysis. The title of their paper says it all: "Health Reform Will Reduce the Deficit." It’s worth a read.

  • Tech Tool to Save Taxpayers’ Money

    As regular readers of this blog know, I am an avid believer in the power of data. Evidence-based decisions drive a lot of what we do at OMB, from budget decisions to regulatory review.

  • Fiscal Realities

    We are mere feet from the finish line to passing into law historic, fiscally responsible health insurance reform that will give more choice and security to those with health insurance, provide access to coverage to those without, improve the quality of health care for us all, and provide the most deficit reduction of any bill in over a decade.

  • Responsible and Paid For

    Today’s Congressional Budget Office (CBO) estimate of health insurance reform legislation reaffirms what we have said for the past year: that fiscally responsible health insurance reform is not only possible, but also is an important step toward long-term fiscal sustainability.

  • Taking On Earmarks

    Yesterday, House Appropriations Committee Chairman David Obey announced a major step forward in earmark reform, banning earmarks that go to for-profit companies. He also announced that the House would post every earmark request on a single website — right in line with what the President called for in his State of the Union address. These actions will help to reduce abuses and bring more transparency to earmarks.

  • Show-Me Savings

    Before he became President, Harry Truman made a name for himself by heading a commission that looked into waste in contracting during World War II. So it is only fitting that in Truman’s home state of Missouri today, the President announced a new initiative to go after the $100 billion in improper payments made by the federal government each year.

  • Salary Statistics

    At a Government Executive breakfast meeting yesterday, I was asked about salaries for federal employees – an issue that has received some attention lately in the popular press.

  • No Gimmick

    The President has insisted since day one that health insurance reform should not add a dime to the deficit. In keeping with this commitment, the President has put forward a health plan that would reduce deficits by roughly $100 billion over the next ten years and by roughly $1 trillion in the decade after that.

  • Education: The Wind at America’s Back

    Today, I spoke to students at the Georgetown University Public Policy Institute, where I discussed the Administration’s efforts to promote short-term economic recovery, put the nation on a sustainable fiscal trajectory, and make investments to bolster long-term economic growth. I have written here on many occasions about the first two topics covered in today’s talk, so I’ll use this post to delve a bit more into the final topic of making new investments to promote growth —and, in particular, by expanding access to and the quality of education.