Republicans on the committee stressed the GOP's success in producing a budget that Democrats have refused to consider, while Democrats have done little to produce real plans themselves. Sen. Wicker (R-Miss.) asked Elmendorf about President Obama's recent remarks that the federal government should undertake a "balanced approach" to deficit reduction, and what the CBO's analysis might be.
"We have not seen a specific proposal," Elmendorf replied, "so I don't know."
Wicker prodded Elmendorf on Senate Democrats' budget proposal - a proposal widely-known to be non-existant. Again, Elmendorf replied, "we have not received a specific proposal." Senate Democrats have not produced a budget since April of 2009.
Elmendorf also emphasized the consequences of "fiscal tightening" in 2013 - and on the sequester specifically, he said that economic growth as a percentage of GDP would be 0.6 percentage points lower and that the sequester would cost 750,000 jobs this year.
Both President Obama and congressional Republicans have been attempting to come up with plans to avert the sequester. But, Elmendorf stressed, if they do so without providing offsetting deficit reduction in the future, the economy will take a hit. The CBO's December analysis of the fiscal cliff legislation repeatedly stressed this. In fact, if the sequester is averted without comparable deficit reduction in the future, the economy will suffer permanently lower output in the future, despite the short-term economic boost.
Elmendorf's prepared remarks for the committee came with a chart of future federal debt - the CBO projects debt to stay at a permanently elevated level for the next decade.
The Wisdom of Bastiat, as Revealed by Great Moments in Federal, State, and Local Government | Daniel J. Mitchell