Saturday, June 30, 2012

Filling the Gap

Congress passed a $127 billion highway funding bill on Friday.  The transportation legislation extends federal highway, rail and transit programs for 27 months, authorizing $120 billion in spending, financed by the existing 18.4 cents-gallon federal gasoline tax, as well as about $19 billion in transfers from the Treasury (in the case of both the highway fund and Social Security, it will be interesting to track how we move money around in the Era of Transfer Payments as the Treasury bails out funding shortfalls).

Want to read the details of the bill?  Try 596 pages.

The bill pays for 27 months of highway funding with 10 years of revenues and spending cuts - - the budgeting magic of a promise to pay for spending now with cuts in the future (what does this mean in two years at the next authorization fork in the road moment).  The bill also loops in $9 billion in "budget" offsets from allowing corporations to contribute less over the next several years to their defined-benefit pensions.  How and why this works should be a mystery to most (the 99%).

Read more at Taxpayers for Common Sense (which must think this bill was a gift from heaven).

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