My blog on “How the Budget Baseline Favors Spending” stimulated numerous thoughtful comments. Some implied that my proposal would reward those who wish to make the Bush tax cuts permanent and ignore the fact that dubious accounting was used to get them passed in the first place. Those arguing this point did not pay sufficient attention to my last paragraph which implied that baseline reform would have to await the disposition of the Bush cuts. Further, I alluded to the possibility that whatever portions of the Bush policy are extended, the extension will again be temporary, thus making it difficult to finally settle the point.
The Congressional Budget Office’s expenditure and revenue baseline is supposed to illustrate the budget implications of extending current policy. Few may care how the baseline is actually constructed, but since all policy changes are measured “from the baseline,” the arcane definitions that describe current policy can have a profound effect on Congressional decisions.