A slightly revised version of this paper was published as: Penner, Rudolph G., “When Budgeting was Easier: Eisenhower and the 1960 Budget,” Public Budgeting and Finance 34, No. 4 (Winter 2014), pp. 24-37.
The paper looks back to time when budgeting was easier and budget outcomes were superior. Although it is impossible to replicate the past exactly, there are characteristics of past budgets that might be emulated. The focus is on Eisenhower's battles to balance the 1960 budget. At the time, almost all spending was controlled by annual appropriations, and popular, rapidly growing entitlements for old people were very much less important. The president's budget was much more influential. Approaches to gaining more control over entitlements are explored as is the more difficult task of restoring the influence of the president's budget.