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Federal Budget Policy (January 2017)

Class One -- Tuesday, January 3rd, 2017

We will begin our first class with a discussion of the Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget's "Stabilize the Debt" exercise, an interactive game in which players try to make policy choices that will get the debt below 60 percent of GDP by 2024. Before you start the exercise, read over the Summary and Chapter 1 of the Congressional Budget Office's August 2016 Update to get a quick overview of the major elements of the federal budget. Please do the CFRB's exercise yourself; print out your solution, and be ready to discuss and defend your plan in class. As further core reading for our initial class, please review the materials on FEMA Recoupment from Hurricane Sandy. Why was it so difficult to correct what seems clearly to have government errors here? You should also skim the version of the U.S. Constitution, which has been edited town to highlight the provisions related to fiscal policy. Background readings (optional): Excerpts from Aaron Widavsky's 1964 classic, "The Politics of the Budget Process," are included for reference as an illustration of the budget process prior to the 1970s. Additionally, a recent student briefing paper, “The History of the Congressional Appropriations Process, 1789-2014," is included for reference.