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Casebook Credits History Find
Federal Budget Policy (January 2016)
First published Jan 2016

Federal Budget PolicyProfessor Howell E. JacksonHarvard Law SchoolWinter 2016Class Meeting Times:M-F, 9:30 am to 11:45 am Room: Wasserstein B010Office Hours: Fridays, 3:00 pm to 5:00 pm (or by appointment)Contact Information:Howell E. Jackson (,Griswold 510Assistant: Carole Mason (,Griswold 5 SouthIntroduction                      The goal of this course is to introduce students to the law and practice of budgeting in the United States. At the beginning of the semester, students will be introduced to the basic structure of the federal budget process, including the President's Budget and congressional budgeting procedures that are supposed to govern federal spending. We will explore the roles of all three branches of federal government in setting budget policy in the United States, discussing government shut-downs, debt ceiling crises, and ongoing debates over budget reforms and fiscal challenges. We will then examine the budgeting of entitlements and infrastructure spending, plus state budgeting practices as well as federal-state relations in budget policy. One class will focus on military spending.Students interested in writing a research paper on budget policy can sign up for an additional credit in the Spring term. For these students, the course will continue for four to six two-hour sessions. In addition to covering additional topics, these sessions will include several meetings at which students will present and receive comments on drafts of their research papers. Research paper topics will be arranged with permission of the instructor and can address a wide range of issues related to budget policy, focusing on issues of current interest, including proposals for reforming budget policy. Students interested in writing more extensive papers on related topics for additional credit are welcome to do so.     Readings for the course will consist of a combination of distributed materials, postings on the course's Canvas website, via the H2O link, and readings from Fiscal Challenges: An Interdisciplinary Approach to Budget Policy (2008) (Elizabeth Garrett, et al. eds.), and Allen Schick: The Federal Budget: Politics, Policy and Process (3rd ed. 2007). Both books are recommended for the course and should be available at the Harvard Coop. Copies should also be on reserve for the course in Langdell Library. From time to time, students will also be asked to review selections from the Harvard Law School Briefing Papers on Federal Budget Policy (avail. at These briefing papers are primarily the work of HLS students enrolled in earlier versions of this course, and are illustrative of the kinds of research papers that students participating in the Spring term extension of the course will be expected to produce.An interactive document titled 2015 Federal Budget Calendar is posted to H20 and offers extensive links to press accounts about budget matters in the past year.