January 22, 2009

The Budget Process

  • Dr. Roy Meyers

Key materials
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Every year the president presents a proposed budget to the Congress and the Congress drafts a budget resolution, spurring heated discussion about the nation’s spending and tax policies and the resulting deficits or surpluses. Though this year’s process will follow this basic pattern, the financial crisis and the economic recession have significantly increased our nation’s budgetary challenges.  The Congressional Budget Office recently announced a projected budget deficit of $1.2 trillion for the current fiscal year, which does not count the likely costs of an economic stimulus package and additional appropriations for war fighting.  Medium- and long-term projections show budgets that most think are unsustainable.

In recent years, discontent with the current budget process has grown.  In response, congressional leaders and others have proposed a variety of budget reforms, such as stronger PAYGO rules, earmark limits, procedural triggers for excessive mandatory spending, and budget policy commissions.  While many of these proposals have not yet received sufficient support to be adopted, the exploding debt of the U.S. will soon force the Congress to consider credible reforms to its budget process.

To discuss the current budget situation and possible reforms to the federal budgetary process, the Mercatus Center at George Mason University will host a lecture by Dr. Roy Meyers, a budgetary expert and former analyst at the Congressional Budget Office (CBO). Join us as we address such questions as:

  • What is our current budget situation and how will the projected deficits affect us?
  • What are the symptoms of a broken budget process? What are the major proposals to fix it?
  • Will these proposed reforms work? Are there better alternatives?