Welcome to Scribd, the world's digital library. Read, publish, and share books and documents. See more ➡
Download
Standard view
Full view
of .
Add note
Save to My Library
Sync to mobile
Look up keyword
Like this
3Activity
×
0 of .
Results for:
No results containing your search query
P. 1
Choosing the Nation's Fiscal Future: Chapter 2: Framing the Choices

Choosing the Nation's Fiscal Future: Chapter 2: Framing the Choices

Ratings: (0)|Views: 1,785|Likes:
Choosing the Nation’s Fiscal Future is the culmination of two years of work by the Committee on the Fiscal Future of the United States, a joint project of the National Academy of Public Administration and the National Research Council of the National Academy of Sciences. Comprised of experts who represent a diversity of disciplines, a wealth of experience, and a wide range of political and policy views, the Committee members volunteered their time to produce an extraordinary body of work.

The report illustrates many ways that the nation can align federal spending and revenues to stabilize the debt within a decade, examines the cost of delaying action, and offers a test of fiscal responsibility that any proposed federal budget – including the one President Obama will propose next month – should be able to meet.
Choosing the Nation’s Fiscal Future is the culmination of two years of work by the Committee on the Fiscal Future of the United States, a joint project of the National Academy of Public Administration and the National Research Council of the National Academy of Sciences. Comprised of experts who represent a diversity of disciplines, a wealth of experience, and a wide range of political and policy views, the Committee members volunteered their time to produce an extraordinary body of work.

The report illustrates many ways that the nation can align federal spending and revenues to stabilize the debt within a decade, examines the cost of delaying action, and offers a test of fiscal responsibility that any proposed federal budget – including the one President Obama will propose next month – should be able to meet.

More info:

Published by: Choosing Our Nation's Fiscal Future on Jan 13, 2010
Copyright:Attribution Non-commercial

Availability:

Read on Scribd mobile: iPhone, iPad and Android.
download as PDF, TXT or read online from Scribd
See More
See less

07/07/2010

pdf

text

original

 
2Framing the Choices
Having recognized the magnitude of the long-term fiscal challenge,how can one sort through alternatives for constructing a sustainable federalbudget? A sustainable budget, as noted in Chapter 1, must align revenuesand spending over a long time horizon. To guide one’s thinking about howto put today’s federal budget on a sustainable path, this chapter presents aframework for the inevitable hard choices. The right framework—althoughit cannot by itself resolve fundamental differences—can be a basis for in-formed deliberation and decision making.
CONNECTING BUDGETS AND VALUES
A budget is a plan to use part of the nation’s current and future eco-nomic resources to produce public benefits. Among other things, govern-ment spending produces goods and services whose benefits are widely sharedand not easily divided—what economists call “public goods” or “collectivegoods” (Samuelson, 1954). National defense spending is a good example.Its benefits are shared by all and not divisible. Budgets also use taxation andspending to transfer resources from some groups to others. Examples are theuse of revenues to support low-income families or to compensate woundedveterans. In political terms, the federal budget represents decisions aboutthe use of national resources for public benefits and social objectives anddecisions on how to collect the revenues to finance the planned spending.Even more broadly, a budget reflects how the proposed use of resourcesis expected to yield certain desirable outcomes—improvements in societyand in people’s lives. The essence—and difficulty—of budgeting is to trade
35
 
36
CHOOSING THE NATION’S FISCAL FUTURE
off many desirable social goals against each other when resources are notunlimited. A “good” budget shows clearly whether there is a match betweenplans to spend and plans to pay for spending and whether the spendingimplied by current and proposed policies is sustainable.In this report we insist that it is critical in assessing a budget to takethe long view—to be concerned about future generations’ opportunities andwell-being. Because current policies as projected are not sustainable, eitherspending must be reduced or revenues must increase. Budgets quantify thepriority given to every public objective, from the oldest and most basic,such as national security, to newer ones, such as environmental protection.Federal government responsibilities have expanded gradually over manyyears. The oldest federal functions included building interstate transpor-tation networks and securing the nation’s borders. For example, GeorgeWashington’s administration built the lighthouse at Montauk Point in NewYork. The newest functions include protecting endangered species, reducinggreenhouse gas emissions, and expanding broadband access.Public priorities change over time. Although federal spending as a pro-portion of the nation’s gross domestic product (GDP) was relatively stablefrom 1962 to 2008—increasing from about 19 percent to 20.5 percent—thedistribution of spending by function changed dramatically. Social Securityand health benefits, mainly to the poor and elderly, roughly tripled as aproportion of total spending, while the share going to defense and veteransfell from about one-half of the total to about one-fourth; see Figure 2-1.Budget debates reflect fundamental differences: in people’s values,interests, and beliefs; about questions of budget priorities or tradeoffsconcerning the best allocation of resources among public goals; and onpractical questions about the best way to use resources to advance agreed-on priorities.People hold sharply differing views of what they want or need fromgovernment, what they believe government can deliver, and what role theybelieve government should have in the economy and other aspects of life.In general, people favor policies that they believe will benefit themselves,their families, others like themselves, and the society as a whole—whether“benefit” is seen largely in material or in other terms.Logically and appropriately, differences in values, interests, and beliefsabout government’s role will lead people to widely different positions aboutwhat the budget should support and how. Differences in values, interests,and beliefs need to be recognized and at least partly reconciled in order tomake long-range budget decisions. Fortunately, people who differ in theirvalues and beliefs can and do often find common ground when it comes topractical solutions. In the next section we discuss the values that are mostoften reflected in budget debates. In the last section we consider practicalconcerns about how value preferences relate to budget choices.
 
FRAMING THE CHOICES
37 
VALUES AND BUDGET DECISIONS
The list of values that are applicable to assessing budgets is poten-tially long (see, e.g., Yankelovich, 1994). We consider five that have beenmost prominent in recent budget debates: (1) equity or fairness, (2) eco-nomic growth, (3) efficiency, (4) physical security, and (5) the size of government.
Fairness
For many people, the distribution of public burdens and benefits is aprincipal measure of social justice (see, e.g., Penner, 2004; Rawls, 2001).Of course, people disagree sharply on what is fair and, looking at the samebudget, will disagree in their assessments of its fairness.Budgets affect the distribution of private income and wealth. At varioustimes in the nation’s history and again in the past decade, many people haveexpressed concern about increases in U.S. income inequality and a lack of 
01020304050607080901001962196719721977198219871992199720022007
   P  e  r  c  e  n   t  a  g  e  o   f   T  o   t  a   l   S  p  e  n   d   i  n  g
Net interestOther functionsTransportation, environment,energy, and scienceIncome security, education,training, employment, andsocial servicesNational defense and veteransprogramsSocial SecurityHealth
FIGURE 2-1
Federal government spending by function, 1962-2007.

Activity (3)

You've already reviewed this. Edit your review.
1 thousand reads
1 hundred reads
Demian Moore liked this

You're Reading a Free Preview

Download
/*********** DO NOT ALTER ANYTHING BELOW THIS LINE ! ************/ var s_code=s.t();if(s_code)document.write(s_code)//-->