US fiscal policy has long been unsustainable, driven largely by automatically growing entitlement spending and insufficient revenues. Often overlooked is the extent to which this preordained fiscal policy limits policymakers’ discretion to act on new priorities each year. This study lays out reforms to the federal budget process that could restore greater discretion to congressional lawmakers, so that a greater share of revenues is not automatically allocated without any vote by a sitting Congress. Such reforms include triggers in entitlement and tax programs that limit automatic growth, more transparent reporting and informative displays of budget information, and more requirements to subject programs to periodic review and reauthorization.
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