Researcher and Writer in Washington, DC

Posts in category Budget

The exasperating politics of pensions and trust fu...

The exasperating politics of pensions and trust funds

Across the United States, myriad pension and trust funds are in trouble. Serious trouble. The U.S Postal Service’s retiree health benefits fund is underfunded by $70 billion and will be depleted in 10 years. In Illinois, the state’s teacher pension fund is 60 percent underfunded. Kentucky’s public pension is so underfunded that some employers have to fork out […]

The broken budget process is a democracy reform is...

The broken budget process is a democracy reform issue

It is difficult to overstate how wrecked the federal budget process is. Late last month, President Trump signed a 30-day stopgap funding measure to dodge a government shutdown. This was the second time this autumn that Congress and the president had to resort to such a continuing resolution. Governing through short-term spending bills has become […]

Permanent appropriations: Might they improve the budget proce...

Permanent appropriations: Might they improve the budget process?

If you have not read Prof. Andrew Taylor’s article in the latest copy of National Affairs, you should. It is titled, “Reforming the Appropriations Process.” and is interesting and provocative. Certainly it made me think. He argues for making appropriations permanent. Doing so would stabilize spending and avoid the high dramas of government shutdowns, continuing resolutions, and all the […]

We might actually get budget reform this y...

We might actually get budget reform this year

This past week, Congress held another hearing on budget reform. Two former budget committee chairmen, Leon Panetta and David Obey, both testified. They lamented the current state of congressional budgeting and identified aspects of the 1974 Budget Act that discourage fiscally responsible and timely annual budgeting. Readers might be tempted to shrug this off as a non-event. “Elected officials […]

Voters Hold Officials Accountable for Deficits in Many Countries. Just Not He...

Voters Hold Officials Accountable for Deficits in Many Countries. Just Not Here.

Wouldn’t it be nice if voters punished politicians who increase budget deficits? Well, according to one research paper, they do. Adi Brender (Bank of Israel) and Allan Drazen (University of Maryland) crunched data from 23 nations on budgets and the electoral fortunes of chief executives. Their unambiguous finding was that “increased deficits during an incumbent’s […]

How to Put the “Most Complete and Effectual Weapon” Back in Their Ha...

How to Put the “Most Complete and Effectual Weapon” Back in Their Hands

Indubitably, our nation’s finances are a mess. America has run deficits 36 of the past 40 years. The national debt is $18 trillion, and it has tripled as a percentage of GDP since 1974. Each February, the President rolls out his budget—a collection of tomes loaded with tables and text attempting to explain the government’s […]

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