More About Richard Kogan

Richard Kogan

Richard Kogan rejoined the Center in May 2011 after having served as a Senior Adviser at the Office of Management and Budget since January 2009. During his second tour at the Center, from 2001 to 2009, he served as a Senior Fellow specializing in federal budget issues, including aggregate spending, revenues, surpluses and deficits, and debt. Kogan is also an expert in the congressional and executive budget processes and budget accounting concepts.

Full bio and recent public appearances | Research archive at CBPP.org


Ryan Budget Gets 69 Percent of Its Cuts From Low-Income Programs [Updated]

April 10, 2014 at 5:10 pm

Some 69 percent of the cuts in House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan’s new budget would come from programs that serve people of limited means, our recently released report finds.  These disproportionate cuts — which likely account for at least $3.3 trillion of the budget’s $4.8 trillion in non-defense cuts over the next decade — contrast sharply with the budget’s rhetoric about helping the poor and promoting opportunity.

The low-income cuts fall into five categories:

  • Health coverage.  The Ryan budget has at least $2.7 trillion in cuts to Medicaid and subsidies to help low- and moderate-income people buy private insurance.  Under the Ryan plan, at least 40 million low- and moderate-income people — that’s 1 in 8 Americans — would become uninsured by 2024.
  • Food assistance.  The Ryan budget cuts SNAP (formerly food stamps) by $137 billion over the next decade.  It adopts the harsh SNAP cuts that the House passed last September — which would force 3.8 million people off the program in 2014, according to the Congressional Budget Office — and then converts SNAP to a block grant in 2019 and imposes still-deeper cuts.
  • Help affording college.  The Ryan budget cuts Pell Grants for low- and moderate-income students by up to $125 billion through such means as freezing the maximum grant (which already covers less than a third of college costs) for ten years, cutting eligibility in various ways, and repealing all mandatory funding for Pell Grants.
  • Other mandatory programs serving low-income Americans.  The Ryan budget cuts an additional $385 billion — beyond its SNAP cuts — from the budget category containing many mandatory programs for low- and moderate-income Americans, such as Supplemental Security Income for the elderly and disabled, the school lunch and child nutrition programs, and the Earned Income and Child Tax Credits for lower-income working families.  We estimate that about $150 billion of these cuts would fall on such low-income programs, as explained in the final paragraph of this blog.
  • Low-income discretionary programs.  The Ryan budget cuts these programs by about $160 billion, on top of the cuts already enacted through the 2011 Budget Control Act’s discretionary caps and sequestration.

Our estimates are likely conservative.  In cases where the Ryan budget cuts funding in a budget category but doesn’t distribute that cut among specific programs — such as its cuts in non-defense discretionary programs and its unspecified cuts in mandatory programs — we assume that all programs in that category, including programs not designed to assist low-income households, will be cut by the same percentage.

Ryan Budget Gets 69 Percent of Its Cuts from Low-Income Programs

April 3, 2014 at 3:54 pm

Update, April 10: This blog post has been updatedClick here for the full analysis of the cuts to programs serving people with low or moderate incomes in Chairman Ryan’s budget.

Some 69 percent of the cuts in House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan’s new budget would come from programs that serve people of limited means, our forthcoming report finds.  These disproportionate cuts — which likely account for at least $3.3 trillion of the budget’s $4.8 trillion in non-defense cuts over the next decade — contrast sharply with the budget’s rhetoric about helping the poor and promoting opportunity.

The low-income cuts fall into five categories:

  • Health coverage.  The Ryan budget has at least $2.7 trillion in cuts to Medicaid and subsidies to help low- and moderate-income people buy private insurance.  Under the Ryan plan, at least 40 million low- and moderate-income people — that’s 1 in 8 Americans — would become uninsured by 2024.
  • Food assistance.  The Ryan budget cuts SNAP (formerly food stamps) by $137 billion over the next decade.  It adopts the harsh SNAP cuts that the House passed last September — which would force 3.8 million people off the program in 2014, according to the Congressional Budget Office — and then converts SNAP to a block grant in 2019 and imposes still-deeper cuts.
  • Help affording college.  The Ryan budget cuts Pell Grants for low- and moderate-income students by up to $125 billion through such means as freezing the maximum grant (which already covers less than a third of college costs) for ten years, cutting eligibility in various ways, and repealing all mandatory funding for Pell Grants.
  • Other mandatory programs serving low-income Americans.  The Ryan budget cuts an additional $385 billion — beyond its SNAP cuts —from the budget category containing many mandatory programs for low- and moderate-income Americans, such as Supplemental Security Income for the elderly and disabled, the school lunch and child nutrition programs, and the Earned Income and Child Tax Credits for lower-income working families.  We estimate that at least $250 billion of these cuts would fall on such low-income programs, as explained in the final paragraph of this blog.
  • Low-income discretionary programs.  The Ryan budget cuts these programs by about $250 billion, on top of the cuts already enacted through the 2011 Budget Control Act’s discretionary caps and sequestration.

Our estimates are likely conservative.  In cases where the Ryan budget cuts funding in a budget category but doesn’t distribute that cut among specific programs — such as its cuts in non-defense discretionary programs and its unspecified cuts in mandatory programs — we assume that all programs in that category, including programs not designed to assist low-income households, will be cut by the same percentage.

Congress Has Already Agreed to its 2015 Budget Plan

January 23, 2014 at 4:23 pm

Ahead of schedule!  That phrase does not normally apply to Congress.  But one salutary side effect of the budget deal of last December between Senate Budget Chair Patty Murray and House Budget Chair Paul Ryan is that it automatically establishes the next congressional budget plan.

Ordinarily, Congress is supposed to agree on a budget plan — a congressional “budget resolution” — by April 15 each year.  Yet with increasing frequency, the House and Senate go their separate ways, disagree with each other, argue about budget targets all year long, and trip over their own budget enforcement rules.

The good news is that the Murray-Ryan budget deal includes provisions that create an automatic budget plan, applicable in both the House and Senate and legally constituting a budget resolution, effective this April 15.  The plan:

  • sets 2015 funding levels for the Appropriation Committees;
  • sets appropriations levels for later years at levels specified by the 2011 Budget Control Act (enforceable caps on defense and non-defense discretionary funding, as reduced by sequestration); and
  • sets levels for revenues and mandatory spending, consistent with the statutory baseline that the Congressional Budget Office will issue this spring.

This plan allows the Appropriations Committees to begin work on the fiscal year 2015 bills this spring, increasing the likelihood that agency budgets will be in place closer to the start of the fiscal year, and avoiding the brinksmanship and uncertainty that has characterized the appropriations process recently.  And by setting mandatory spending and revenues at baseline levels, the Murray-Ryan deal is consistent with, and reinforces, the 2010 Statutory Pay-As-You-Go Act (PAYGO) and the House’s 2011 “cut-as-you-go” rule.  This also means that any continuation of expiring provisions — like the so-called “doc fix” (to prevent deep cuts in Medicare reimbursements for doctors) or the “tax extenders” — must be fully offset; as we have explained, that is good news for future deficits.

Of course, there is nothing to stop one or both houses of Congress from attempting to design and approve a different plan.  Maybe a different plan would, like the Murray-Ryan deal, call for undoing some of the 2016-2021 sequestration, offset by cuts in mandatory programs or increases in revenues.  Or maybe it would aim for immediate job creation or further deficit reduction.  If the past is prologue, however, Congress will be unable to agree on a single, alternative plan.

But make no mistake — if Congress does not agree on an alternative plan, that does not mean it has failed; it means the plan in the Murray-Ryan deal will stick.  In short, unlike past years, inaction is not a failure, because successful budget planning is already in place.

Student Loans Are a Good Deal for Students and the Government

November 21, 2013 at 4:22 pm

My new piece in The Huffington Post explains that, while the federal student loan program generates a profit for the federal government, it’s also a good deal for students.  Here’s the opening.

Shahien Nasiripour’s November 18 piece stated that reported profits from the federal student loan program offset a large part of the U.S. Department of Education’s budget, while noting that some experts disagree that the program actually generates a profit.  We’d like to add three points: 1) the federal budget’s accounting for student loans is correct — the government does make a profit on the program; 2) this doesn’t mean that the program is a bad deal for students; and 3) before making the program more generous, we should evaluate whether that’s the best use of new federal dollars, which are very hard to find these days.

Explaining why the student loan program is running a profit is complicated so we’ll save it for the end.  But the government’s profit does not mean that the program is necessarily a bad deal for students.  More than 10 million undergraduates per year borrow from the government precisely because it helps them pay for college and comes with favorable repayment options and consumer protections not offered by private lenders.

How can the government both run a profit and charge lower interest rates and provide better terms than the banks?  The key is that the Treasury borrows at lower cost than banks.  It also doesn’t pay dividends to stockholders, and it has more effective mechanisms for collecting overdue loans.

Advocates for students worry, understandably, that student indebtedness is growing too rapidly.  Why not reduce or eliminate the federal profit by, say, cutting the interest rates that students pay for federal loans or forgiving a slice of outstanding debt?  But making the student loan program more generous to students overall would raise total federal spending and deficits, since the program is part of the federal budget.  And it may not be the best use of additional budget dollars, which are scarce.

Policymakers would need to weigh the range of alternatives across the budget, such as expanding Pell Grants for low- and moderate-income students, reducing the deficit, or making other investments with a future pay-off, such as repairing and expanding public infrastructure.  If reducing the burden of student loans has merit, it is not simply because the federal program is running a profit but because many students need the relief and making college a bit cheaper is good for the nation’s future.

Click here for the full post, including why we agree with existing budget accounting.

If Sequestration Remains, Policymakers Will Have Cut Deficits by Nearly $4 Trillion, Largely Through Spending Cuts

October 31, 2013 at 12:33 pm

As a House-Senate conference committee on the budget resolution begins work, it’s worth taking stock of the deficit reduction of recent years.

Policymakers have enacted several deficit-reduction measures since 2010, including cuts to appropriations in 2011, the 2011 Budget Control Act (BCA), and the American Taxpayer Relief Act (ATRA) in early 2013.  Taken together, these measures will shrink deficits by nearly $4 trillion over the 2014-2023 period, if the sequestration cuts remain in place or policymakers replace them with comparable deficit-reduction measures over the decade (see table).

This nearly $4 trillion in deficit reduction reflects policy changes and the accompanying interest savings.  It doesn’t count the effects of an improving economy or the expiration of temporary stimulus measures.

These policy savings primarily come from cuts in discretionary programs, including the BCA cuts.  The BCA capped funding for discretionary programs and called for sequestration if Congress failed to enact other deficit-reduction legislation.  ATRA cut deficits primarily by raising taxes for the highest-earning Americans.

Overall, with sequestration in place, 79 percent of the deficit reduction over 2014-2023 resulting from policy changes will come from spending cuts — just 21 percent from increased revenues (see graph).  Even if we replaced half of the sequestration cuts in 2014 and beyond with added revenues, nearly two-thirds of the deficit reduction achieved over the 2014-2023 period would come from spending cuts.