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Radical tax reform has chance: Penner

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CONGRESSIONAL staff members are usually anonymous - heard, quoted, but not too often named. Any press fame is owed their bosses. Not so, however, for one key official, the director of the Congressional Budget Office (CBO). That job is now held by Rudolph G. Penner, and before him Alice Rivlin, who became well known in Washington circles, although perhaps not a household name.

Dr. Penner was in Boston this week to talk on a panel at the annual conference of the New England Council, a regional business association, which dealt with, you guessed it, ''Post-election Prospects for Reducing the Federal Deficit.'' The views of the head of CBO, the bipartisan congressional research facility, are prized enough to prompt a press conference. Here are some of his key positions.

* He has no quarrel with statements of Reagan administration officials that the budget deficit for this year could climb rapidly.

These officials first placed the fiscal 1985 deficit at $190 billion and then billion in the fiscal year that ended Sept. 30. The administration had been predicting $172 billion for fiscal 1985; the CBO, $178 billion.

''It is not surprising that it (the deficit) should go up,'' Penner said.

One reason is the slowdown in the economy. When the income of individuals and corporations rises more slowly, the government's share also climbs at a more languid pace. Also, Congress added some spending at the last moment, after the CBO and the administration's Office of Management and Budget had completed their budget projections.

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