Jo Comerford serves as the Executive Director of the National Priorities Project.
Blog Post List
December 12, 2013
Senate Budget Chair Patty Murray and her House counterpart Rep. Paul Ryan yesterday reached a deal determining the level of federal discretionary spending for the next two years. In particular, the deal reduces the impact of sequestration, the automatic, across-the-board budget cuts that went into effect in 2013. Q: Why is this the “$85 billion deal?” A: This deal totaled $85 billion in changes to projected federal spending. Around $65 billion of that total reduces the impact of sequestration in 2014 and 2015. The remainder is dedicated to reducing budget deficits. Q: Does this deal close tax...
November 28, 2013
This Thanksgiving, Congress should set aside dysfunction and the austerity mindset and give the American people a reason to be thankful: a federal spending and revenue plan that takes our best interests to heart. In calling for the release of top-line budget numbers prior to Thanksgiving recess, members of the House Appropriations Committee noted that there could be “ extremely damaging repercussions ” if the budget conference committee fails to reach a deal by the agreed-upon December 13 deadline.  It’s clear that federal budget debates are no longer for the faint of heart. What’s less...
October 23, 2013
Every American should have been in the streets when our elected officials labeled cancer care for children as "nonessential." On a damp Friday morning, 11 days into the government shutdown, a few dozen truckers took to the Capital Beltway to tell lawmakers they were angry. They were protesting big government. Yet opinion polls showed that Americans opposed the government shutdown and were hurting because of it. At that moment, according to polls, nearly one in three Americans already felt personally affected not by too much government, but by too little — by the sudden freeze in critical...
September 19, 2013
The federal budget expresses our nation’s values and priorities in numbers. It’s a blueprint for how our elected officials plan to make money and how they plan to spend it. What happens in Washington, D.C. has a profound local impact. About 80 percent of all federal tax revenue comes from the paychecks of regular Americans, and every single person and every community in the nation is affected by federal spending priorities. That means overhauling the tax code should be done in the open. A rewrite of the complex and arcane U.S. Tax Code — all 18 pounds of it in its paperback form — has begun...
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April 28, 2013
They’ve hit a new low. Citing significant concerns about long lines at airports and flight delays caused by the furlough of air-traffic controllers, Congress is allowing the Federal Aviation Administration to override strict sequestration rules and re-direct funds within its budget. And they did so with lightning speed. With their big fuss over aviation punctuality, lawmakers make it clear that they're not feeling the pain felt by the majority of Americans. Their message: In the United States it’s fine to wait — and face a steep climb — for housing, health care, cancer treatment, a pre-school...
April 2, 2013
A few weeks ago I spent the morning at Jackson Street Elementary School in Northampton, Massachusetts. My daughter is enrolled at Jackson Street in Jen Reed’s Kindergarten class, where I’ve – happily – volunteered in the past. But during this last visit I was with the “big kids” – the fifth graders. My host was Mary Cowhey, Jackson Street’s Title I math instructor. Mary asked me to teach about the federal budget in order to build students’ math and civic capacity. After all, there are a lot of “big numbers” in our nation’s budget and you and I are intimately connected with all of them. In a...
February 27, 2013
Sequestration is both an ugly word and hard to explain. As a budget wonk, I like to use this metaphor: It’s as if the American people are being squeezed into the back of a dilapidated Chevy pick-up. Careening down a dirt road, we’re headed for a brick wall. Try as we might to wake up from this nightmare we cannot stop the truck. That sounds frightening, and it is. Once sequestration kicks in, we’ll feel the impact of approximately $85 billion in automatic, across-the-board federal spending cuts focused almost exclusively on discretionary spending. Designed as the ultimate penalty — a bludgeon...
October 24, 2012
In 2011, I taught two summer courses, directed a federal budget research organization and paid taxes. Taxes are the dues I pay for living in a democracy. Like you, I contribute at the local, state, and federal levels. I want us to fall a little bit in love with the federal budget and there’s no better place to begin than understanding where our federal tax dollars go. So, I’d like to tell you a story – my story – of how the federal budget – our tax dollars – affects my life. Meet my children. My daughter is six going on 33, a courageous, big-hearted cyclone. My son is four. In one instant,...
August 14, 2012
If there was ever any doubt that the U.S. federal budget would claim center-stage in the 2012 presidential race, it vanished with Mitt Romney's selection of House Budget Chair Paul Ryan (R-WI) as the GOP Vice Presidential nominee. Although Mitt Romney has emphasized he will run on a Romney budget, not a Ryan budget, he has already endorsed central elements of Ryan's plan – such as significant cuts to Medicaid and education – and has indicated that the Congressman will play a lead role in shaping the Romney/Ryan platform. Paul Ryan's federal budget proposal includes sweeping changes that...