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Changing the Budget Process

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Document date: September 21, 2011
Released online: September 21, 2011

The text below is an excerpt from the complete document. Read the full written testimony in PDF format.


Rudolph Penner's testimony before the House Committee on the Budget on proposals for changing the budget process.

It is tempting to believe that if only we could come up with some clever budget rules, fiscal prudence would follow. Unfortunately, it does not work that way. The desire for fiscal responsibility must come first. Then rules can be important in strengthening the efforts of those supporting fiscally responsible policies. They also can protect those who are fiscally responsible from the special interests that will inevitably oppose them.

The problem in recent years has not been a lack of rules. It has instead been the failure of the Congress to follow rules that are already on the books. The Senate has not passed a normal budget in 2 years (The caps imposed by the Budget Control Act of 2011 have recently been deemed to constitute a budget.) and last year the House failed to pass a budget for the first time in the history of the modern budget process. It is hard to think up useful rules governing the development of a budget resolution when no budget resolution passes the entire Congress.

The Congress almost never passes appropriations on time. That makes it very difficult for the bureaucracy to make rational plans.

End of excerpt. The entire report is available in PDF format.

Topics/Tags: | Economy/Taxes

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