The $300 Billion Question: How Should We Budget for Federal Lending Programs?

Research Report

The $300 Billion Question: How Should We Budget for Federal Lending Programs?

September 29, 2014

Abstract

Student loans, mortgage guarantees, and other lending programs create special challenges for federal budgeting. Under official budget rules, these programs are projected to bring in $200 billion over the next decade. Under an alternative, favored by many analysts, they appear to lose $100 billion. That $300 billion disparity confuses policy deliberations. In this report, Donald Marron proposes a new budgeting approach, known as expected returns, that would eliminate this confusion. The report critically reviews todays budgeting approaches, identifies their flaws, and demonstrates how expected returns would improve budgeting for federal lending.

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