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[T]he House plan would bar the Treasury Department from using accounting gimmicks known as "extraordinary measures," increasing the transparency of the federal budget process and prohibiting what economist Donald Marron calls the "embarrassingly casual" use today of such measures by the Treasury Secretary. In the era of President Reagan and House Speaker Tip O'Neill, short-term debt limit increases with hard dates and no gimmicks were the norm. The House plan seeks to restore transparency to the process and deny bureaucrats the ability to use budget gimmicks to mislead the public about the financial condition of the United States.

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David Kurtz is Managing Editor and Washington Bureau Chief of Talking Points Memo where he oversees the news operations of TPM and its sister sites.