The Federal Government

in Rules and Restraint

Published by University of Chicago Press

Published in print October 2007 | ISBN: 9780226682594
Published online March 2013 | e-ISBN: 9780226682617 | DOI:
The Federal Government

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This chapter explains why budget reform is unlikely to be implemented successfully at the federal level. In discussing both actual and proposed reforms, it demonstrates why rules have failed in the past and why prospects for successful reform are dim. A series of case studies, including Gramm-Rudman-Hollings, the Budget Enforcement Act of 1990, and proposed constitutional balanced budget amendments, are examined. Rule design requires political compromise, often rendering policies ineffective. In simulations, the agenda setter will always prefer the higher level of spending. The simulations indicate a way to insulate against the perverse consequences of rules (i.e., the 90 percent rule leading to higher spending). Despite the advantages of the 90 percent rule, successful implementation would likely require a constitutional amendment, subject to all of the problems discussed earlier.

Keywords: budget reform; rule design; Gramm-Rudman-Hollings; Budget Enforcement Act; budget amendments; spending

Chapter.  7403 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: US Politics

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