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By David Keene
Allowing states to innovate could reduce dependency on bureaucracy
Topic - Douglas W. Elmendorf
Congress' chief scorekeeper warned Wednesday that the country's top lawmakers can't continue to put off big decisions on the budget and the economy much longer, and said either path — belt-tightening now or even deeper cuts later — will be painful.
The bipartisan supercommittee's proposal for addressing the nation's debt woes is due two weeks from Wednesday, but the panel already has hit a deadline that Congress' official scorekeeper says should be met to ensure the numbers add up.
The congressional debt-reduction panel met publicly for the first time in more than a month Wednesday but offered little public evidence of making progress as the clock ticks toward a Thanksgiving deadline.
Congress' chief scorekeeper effectively shortened the window for the new deficit supercommittee to reach a deal, saying Tuesday that if lawmakers are going to meet their Thanksgiving deadline, his office will need to see an agreement at the beginning of November.
Congress' official scorekeeper said Tuesday that the United States will continue to see slow economic growth for the next several years as job openings and a lack of demand for goods and services continue to block a speedier rebound.
A full, permanent extension of the Bush tax cuts could help the economy grow by nearly 2 percent more next year — and would be a bigger boost than just a partial extension, Congress' chief scorekeeper said Tuesday.
President Obama's agenda has so overloaded Congress that its legislative gatekeepers - the analysts who score each bill and the auditors who weed out waste and fraud - can't keep up.
He said that given the fiscal challenge, the government will need to increase taxes by 25 percent, cut total spending by 25 percent, or do some combination of the two, just to keep at today's already high debt level.
"They are small steps relative to the length of the journey that will be needed," said Douglas W. Elmendorf, CBO's director.