Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget

Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget
The Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget
Abbreviation CRFB
Formation June 10, 1981
Type Public policy think tank
Headquarters 1899 L Street NW, Suite 400, Washington, D.C. 20036
Location Washington, D.C.
President Maya MacGuineas

The Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget (CRFB) is an independent, non-profit, non-partisan public policy organization based in Washington, D.C. that addresses federal budget and fiscal issues. It was founded in 1981 by former United States Representatives Robert Giaimo (D-CT) and Henry Bellmon (R-OK), and its board of directors includes former Members of Congress and directors of the Office of Management and Budget, the Congressional Budget Office and the Federal Reserve.[1] CRFB is also host of the Peterson-Pew Commission on Budget Reform, which released its initial report, Red Ink Rising, in December 2009 and its second report, Getting Back in the Black, in November 2010.[2]



The Committee’s current President is Maya MacGuineas, who also serves as Director of the Fiscal Policy Program at the New America Foundation. CRFB’s board of directors is co-chaired by William Frenzel (R-MN), Timothy Penny (I-MN), and Charles Stenholm (D-TX), all former Congressional representatives.

The organization’s activities are overseen by a 32 member board of directors made up of experts and prominent figures in federal budget, tax and fiscal policy.

A large part of the board is made up of former directors of major budget-related government offices including the Congressional Budget Office (CBO), the Office of Management and Budget (OMB), the House and Senate Budget Committees, and the Federal Reserve Board of Governors. The group also includes numerous former Congressmen, former U.S. Comptrollers General, university and think tank experts on fiscal policy, and prominent members of the business and legal community.[3]

Research and publications

CRFB focuses on many issues including deficit reduction, "entitlement" reform, fundamental tax reform, improving the budget process, and other topical issues as they arise.

It is perhaps best known for the reports it produces on both current issues and long-term trends in the federal government’s finances.[4] In the past, CRFB has produced analyses in areas including:

  • The stages in the annual federal budget cycle (e.g., the President’s budget submission, Congressional Budget Resolution, etc.)
  • Developments and changes in Congressional budget procedures and process
  • The status and future prospects of long-term government “entitlement” programs (e.g., Medicare, Medicaid, and Social Security)
  • The findings of regular financial and budgetary reports put out by government offices (e.g., the Congressional Budget Office’s “Monthly Budget Report” and annual “Budget and Economic Outlook”)
  • Tax and spending bills proposed by Congress or the President
  • The costs of the candidates’ campaign promises during the 2008 Presidential Election
  • The fiscal implications of the government’s actions during the Economic and Financial Crisis of 2008–2009
  • Major public policy initiatives (e.g., health care reform).

The organization also releases regular press releases on day-to-day news developments related to federal budget, tax, and fiscal policy.


The organization was founded by former representative and Chairman of the House Budget Committee Robert Giaimo (D-CT) and former representative and Ranking Budget Committee member Henry Bellmon (R-OK) on June 10, 1981. After leaving Congress, the two decided that the country needed an organization outside government committed to advocating for sound budget process, and decided to convene a group including other former Budget Committee Chairmen, former Directors of the Office of Management and Budget, leading economists, and businessmen.[5]

The Committee’s first president was Carol Cox Wait, who served until 2003 and now sits on CRFB’s board of directors.

Based at the New America Foundation

Since 2004, the organization has been based at the New America Foundation, a non-profit, non-partisan, Washington, D.C.-area public policy “think tank.” Maya MacGuineas, President of CRFB, is also the Program Director of New America’s Fiscal Policy Program, and most of CRFB’s staff is also co-appointed to positions at New America.[6]

Projects and initiatives

Go Big

CRFB launched the Go Big initiative after The Budget Control Act of 2011, enacted in early August to raise the debt-ceiling and avoid default, tasked a bipartisan 12-member Joint Congressional Committee on Deficit Reduction (Super Committee) with finding an additional $1.5 trillion in deficit reduction by November 23rd. If the Super Committee fails to report at least $1.2 trillion in savings, across-the-board spending cuts will be triggered, taking effect in 2013 in order to bring ten-year savings up to $1.2 trillion. Even if the Super Committee succeeds in its task of finding $1.5 trillion in deficit reduction, that amount would be insufficient to stabilize and reduce the national debt as a percentage of GDP.[7] For this reason, CRFB launched "Go Big" in an effort to urge the Super Committee to exceed its savings mandate of $1.5 trillion and enact a bipartisan, comprehensive fiscal reform plan.[8]

Moment of Truth Project

In early 2011, former fiscal commission co-chairs Erskine Bowles and Alan Simpson launched the Moment of Truth Project, a non-profit, non-partisan effort that seeks to foster honest discussion about the nation's fiscal challenges, the difficult choices that must be made to solve them, and the potential for bipartisan compromise that can move the debate forward and set our country on a sustainable path. The Moment of Truth project aims to use the Fiscal Commission’s findings to spark a national discussion on the need to implement a comprehensive budget fix, and to help further develop the policy reforms ideas to improve the nation’s fiscal outlook.[9]

In early 2009, CRFB unveiled, a database which aims to track the spending and deficit impact of all major government actions taken in response to the economic and financial crisis.

On the April 5, 2009 edition of CBS’ Face the Nation, host Bob Schieffer used figures from CRFB’s “Stimulus Watch” chart while questioning Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner about the amount of Troubled Asset Relief Program (TARP) funds that remained unspent.[10]

Peterson-Pew Commission on Budget Reform

In late 2008, CRFB received support from the Peter G. Peterson Foundation and the Pew Charitable Trusts to create a new commission that would explore options for reforming the federal budget process.

The commission is directed by Jim Bates, former Chief Counsel and Staff Director of the U.S. House Committee on the Budget, and former Associate Director of Energy, Natural Resources, Agriculture, & Science at the Office of Management and Budget.

US Budget Watch

In 2008, the organization received a grant from the Pew Charitable Trusts to raise the public understanding of important fiscal matters facing the country during the 2008 election. This project, called US Budget Watch, was also tasked with tracking the candidates’ tax and spending promises both during and after the election.

The project’s most high-profile contribution to the public debate was its series of “Voter Guides,”[1] which attempted to tabulate the costs of then-Senator Barack Obama’s and Senator John McCain’s campaign promises. The project's "Promises, Promises: A Fiscal Voter Guide to the 2008 Election"[11] was widely cited in the mainstream media during the campaign. CNN called it “the most detailed analysis of McCain's and Obama's budget plans.".[12]

On October 15, 2008, during the third debate of the 2008 presidential election, moderator Bob Schieffer asked a question citing US Budget Watch's voter guides about the effects of the candidates' proposed policies on the deficit.[13]

Fiscal Roadmap Project

CRFB’s "Fiscal Roadmap Project" is an initiative seeking to outline how the U.S. can move from stabilizing the economy during financial crisis to addressing its long-term fiscal problems. The ultimate goal of the project is to show how policymakers can eventually put the country in what CRFB regards as a sounder fiscal position.[14] The project has so far released at least two long analyses, one on deficits [15] and another on the activities of the Federal Reserve during the Economic and Financial Crisis of 2008-2009.[16] The Fiscal Roadmap project is directed by Anne Vorce, former U.S. economic expert for the European Commission.

The Bottom Line

CRFB also publishes a blog titled The Bottom Line, which features up to date news stories, as well as opinion pieces and general information, regarding issues that affect fiscal policy. The blog is updated daily with new posts accompanied by relevant graphics and links.

Prominent past and current board members

Roy Ash, former OMB Director for Nixon and Ford administrations
Nancy Kassenbaum Baker, former Senator from Kansas
Henry Bellmon, former Governor of Oklahoma and U.S. Senator from Oklahoma and co-founder of CRFB
Erskine Bowles, former co-chairmen of the National Commission on Fiscal Responsibility and Reform
Charles Bowsher, former Comptroller General of GAO under Reagan administration
Dan Crippen, former CBO Director from 1999–2003
Dick Darman, former OMB Director under George H.W. Bush administration
Vic Fazio, former representative from Oklahoma
William Frenzel, former representative from Oklahoma
Willis D. Gradison, Jr., former representative from Ohio
William H. Gray, III, former representative from Pennsylvania
Alan Greenspan, former Chairman of the Federal Reserve
Douglas Holtz-Eakin, former Director of CBO, economic advisor to McCain 2008 presidential campaign
James Jones, former chief of staff to Lyndon Johnson
Jim Kolbe, former representative from Arizona
James Lynn, former Director of OMB
David Minge, former U.S. Representative from Minnesota
Jim Nussle, former Director of OMB under George W. Bush
Paul O'Neill, former Secretary of the Treasury under George W. Bush
June O'Neill, former director of CBO
Leon Panetta, former OMB Director and current director of the Central Intelligence Agency
Rudolph Penner, former CBO Director
Timothy Penny, former representative from Minnesota
Peter G. Peterson, former U.S. Secretary of Commerce and founder of Peter G. Peterson Institute
Robert Reischauer, former director of CBO and current president of the Urban Institute
John J. Rhodes, former representative from Arizona
Alice Rivlin, founding director of CBO, former member of Federal Reserve Board of Governors
Charles Schultze, former chairman of the Council of Economic Advisors
Alan K. Simpson, former Republican senator from Wyoming
James Slattery, former representative from Kansas
John W. Snow, former Secretary of the Treasury under George W. Bush
John M. Spratt, Jr., former House Budget Committee chairman
Elmer Staats, former U.S. Comptroller General
Charles Stenholm, former representative from Texas
Eugene Steuerle, senior fellow at the Urban Institute
David Stockman, former Director of OMB under Reagan, former representative from Michigan
Robert Strauss, former chairman of Democratic National Committee
Lawrence Summers, former Treasury Secretary and current Director of the National Economic Council
Paul Volcker, former chairman of the Federal Reserve
David Walker, former U.S. Comptroller General and director of GAO
Joseph R. Wright, former director of OMB under Ronald Reagan

See also


  1. ^
  2. ^
  3. ^
  4. ^
  5. ^
  6. ^
  7. ^
  8. ^
  9. ^
  10. ^ Transcript from April 5, 2009 Episode of "Face the Nation"
  11. ^
  12. ^
  13. ^ Third Presidential Debate, October 15, 2008
  14. ^
  15. ^ "Good Deficits, Bad Deficits"
  16. ^ "The Extraordinary Actions Taken by the Federal Reserve to Address the Economic and Financial Crisis"

External links

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