A New Era of Congressional Budgeting

  • Paul Winfree


Voters and politicians in the past have demanded some level of control over the deficit when it reaches a high-water mark if, for no other reason, to achieve some level of symbolic victory over the federal debt. However, the last forty years of history demonstrates how difficult it has become to reduce the deficit even during periods of economic growth. Presidents have commonly sought to stimulate the economy while the economy was growing only to be pulled back by a Congress controlled by the opposing party. However, when both Congress and the White House are controlled by the same party, fiscal tightening is mostly shelved. The Clinton era is the only recent connection with the neo-Keynesian budget policies of the post-World War II period.


  1. Auerbach, Alan J. 2003. “Fiscal Policy, Past and Present.” Brookings Papers on Economic Activity 2003 (1): 75–122.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. Auerbach, Alan J. 1994. “The U.S. Fiscal Problem: Where We Are, How We Got Here, and Where We’re Going.” NBER Macroeconomics Annual 9: 141–175.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. Babunakis, Michael. 1982. Budget Reform for Government. Westport, CT: Quorum Books.Google Scholar
  4. Buchanan, James M., and Richard E. Wagner. 1977. Fiscal Responsibility in Constitutional Democracy. Boston, MA: Martinus Nijhoff Social Sciences Division.Google Scholar
  5. Bush, George W. 2001. “History: Presidential Statements: Address To Joint Session of the Congress--February 27, 2001.” Social Security Online. February 27.
  6. Civiletti, Benjamin R. 1980. Applicability of the Antideficiency Act Upon a Lapse in an Agency’s Appropriations. Legal Memorandum, Washington: United States Department of Justice.Google Scholar
  7. Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget. 2018. “Playing By the (Budget) Rules: Understanding and Preventing Budget Gimmicks.” February 26. Accessed June 21, 2019.
  8. Congressional Budget Office. 2011. “Discretionary Spending Under the Budget Control Act of 2011.” Congressional Budget Office. August 8. Accessed June 21, 2019.
  9. Congressional Budget Office. 2012. Estimated Impact of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act on Employment and Economic Output from July 2012 Through September 2012. Report to Congress, Washington: Congressional Budget Office.Google Scholar
  10. Congressional Budget Office. 1975. Inflation and Unemployment: A Report on the Economy. Report to Congress, Washington, DC: Congressional Budget Office.Google Scholar
  11. Congressional Record. 1987a. August 7: S23169-S23170.Google Scholar
  12. Congressional Record. 1987b. September 16: H24269.Google Scholar
  13. Congressional Record. 1985. October 24: S14032.Google Scholar
  14. Crippen, Dan L. 2001. Extending the Budget Enforcement Act. Testimony before the House of Representatives Committee on the Budget, Washington: Congressional Budget Office.Google Scholar
  15. Croft, Cammie. 2009. “Fiscal Responsibility Summit Report.” The White House Archives. March 20. Accessed June 21, 2019.
  16. De Rugy, Veronique. 2009. Spending Under President George W. Bush. Working Paper, Arlington: Mercatus Center at George Mason University.Google Scholar
  17. Flickinger, Richard S. 1987. “Consumer Policy: Qualified Convergence.” In Political Economy: Public Policies in the United States and Britain, by Jerold L. Waltman and Donley T. Studlar, 150–181. Jackson, MS: University Press of Mississippi.Google Scholar
  18. Frazee, Gretchen, and Lisa Desjardins. 2018. “How the government shutdown compared to every other since 1976.” PBS News Hour. December 26. Accessed June 21, 2019.
  19. Gilmour, John B. 1990. Reconciling Differences? Congress, The Deficit and the Budget Process. Berkeley, CA: University of California Press.Google Scholar
  20. Herber, Bernard P. 1971. Modern Public Finance: The Study of Public Sector Economics. Homewood, IL: Richard D. Irwin.Google Scholar
  21. Holtz-Eakin, Douglas. 2004. Estimating the Cost of the Medicare Modernization Act. Testimony before the House of Representatives Committee on Ways and Means, Washington: Congressional Budget Office.Google Scholar
  22. Hoover, Kevin D., and Steven M. Sheffrin. 1992. “Causation, Spending, and Taxes: Sand in the Sandbox or Tax Collector for the Welfare State?” The American Economic Review 82 (1): 225–248.Google Scholar
  23. Ippolito, Dennis S. 1990. Uncertain Legacies: Federal Budget Policy from Roosevelt through Reagan. Charlottesville, VA: University of Virginia Press.Google Scholar
  24. Joyce, Philip G. 2015. The Congressional Budget Office at Middle Age. Working Paper, Hutchins Center on Fiscal & Monetary Policy at Brookings.Google Scholar
  25. ———. 2011. The Congressional Budget Office: Honest Numbers, Power, and Policymaking. Washington, DC: Georgetown University Press.Google Scholar
  26. Kilborn, Peter T. 1985. “Reagan and the Deficit.” The New York Times, April 26.Google Scholar
  27. Kogan, Richard. 2007. “The New Pay-As-You-Go Rule in The House of Representatives.” Center for Budget and Policy Priorities. January 12. Accessed June 21, 2019.
  28. Korb, Lawrence J. 1975. “An Analysis of the Congressional Budget Act of 1974.” Naval War College Review 29 (4): 40–52.Google Scholar
  29. Lucas, Robert E., Jr. 1986. “Principles of Fiscal and Monetary Policy.” Journal of Monetary Economics 17 (1): 117–134.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  30. Makin, John, and Norman J. Ornstein. 1994. Debt and Taxes. New York, NY: Random House.Google Scholar
  31. Marcuss, Rosemary D. 1992. “Budget Rules and Tax Legislation: Experience Under the Budget Enforcement Act.” Proceedings on Taxation held under the Auspices of the National Tax Association – Tax Institute of America. Washington: Tax Institute of America. 90–96.Google Scholar
  32. Mason, Julie, and Meredith Shiner. 2011. “Joe Biden begins debt talks.” Politico. May 5. Accessed June 21, 2019.
  33. Meyers, Roy T. 2009. “The ‘Ball of Confusion’ in Federal Budgeting: A Shadow Agenda for Deliberative Reform of the Budget Process.” Public Administration Review 69 (2): 211–223.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  34. Mishkin, Frederic H. 1984. “The Causes of Inflation.” Price Stability and Public Policy. Kansas City, MO: Federal Reserve Bank of Kansas City. 1–24.Google Scholar
  35. Niskanen, William A. 1988. Reaganomics. New York, NY: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
  36. Orszag, Peter. 2009. “Opening Remarks at Fiscal Responsibility Summit.” The New York Times. February 23. Accessed June 21, 2019.
  37. Pascall, Glenn. 1985. The Trillion Dollar Budget: How to Stop the Bankrupting of America. Seattle, WA: University of Washington Press.Google Scholar
  38. Penner, Rudolph G., and Alan J. Abramson. 1988. Broken Purse Strings: Congressional Budgeting, 1974–1988. Washington, DC: The Urban Institute Press.Google Scholar
  39. Perry, George L. 1980. “Inflation and Theory in Practice.” Brookings Papers on Economic Activity 207–260.Google Scholar
  40. President’s Commission on Budget Concepts. 1967. Report of the President’s Commission on Budget Concepts. Final Report, U.S. Government Printing Office.Google Scholar
  41. Prokop, Andrew. 2017. “The Congressional Budget Office, explained.” Vox. June 26. Accessed June 21, 2019.
  42. Reagan, Ronald. 1984. “Address to the Nation on the Economy.” Presidential Address. Washington, DC, February 5.Google Scholar
  43. Reischauer, Robert D. 1990. “Taxes and Spending Under Gramm-Rudman-Hollings.” National Tax Journal 43 (3): 223–232.Google Scholar
  44. Richardson, Joe. 2006. Food Stamps and Nutrition Programs in the 2002 Farm Bill. Report for Congress, Washington: Congressional Research Service.Google Scholar
  45. Rivlin, Alice M. 1984. “Reform of the Budget Process.” The American Economic Review: Papers and Proceedings of the Ninety-Sixth Annual Meeting of the American Economic Association 74 (2): 133–137.Google Scholar
  46. Romer, Chistina D., and David H. Romer. 2009. “Do Tax Cuts Starve the Beast? The Effect of Tax Changes on Government Spending?” Brookings Papers on Economic Activity 2009: 139–200.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  47. Rubin, Irene S. 2003. Balancing the Budget: Trimming the Herds or Eating the Seed Corn? New York, NY: Chatham House Publishers.Google Scholar
  48. Santow, Leonard Jay. 1988. The Budget Deficit: The Causes, The Costs, The Outlook. New York, NY: The New York Institute of Finance.Google Scholar
  49. Savage, James D. 1988. Balanced Budgets and American Politics. Ithaca, NY: Cornell University Press.Google Scholar
  50. Schick, Allen. 1975. The Congressional Budget Act of 1974: Legislative History and Analysis. Report to Congress, Washington: Congressional Research Service.Google Scholar
  51. Stevenson, Richard W. 2000. “The 2000 Campaign: The Budget Issue; Bush and Gore Revise Plans To Match a Growing Surplus.” The New York Times. June 13. Accessed June 21, 2019.
  52. The National Commission on Fiscal Responsibility. 2010. The Moment of Truth. Final Report, Washington: The White House.Google Scholar
  53. Turnovsky, Stephen J. 2009. “Stabilization Theory and Policy: 50 Years after the Phillips Curve.” Economica 78 (309): 67–88.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  54. U.S. Congress Joint Study Committee on Budget Control. 1973. Improving Congressional Control Over Budgetary Outlay and Receipt Totals. Interim Report, Washington: U.S. Government Printing Office.Google Scholar
  55. U.S. Senate Committee on the Budget Republican Staff. 2008. “The New Adventures of “Old” Pay-Go.” U.S. Senate Committee on the Budget. February 12. Accessed June 21, 2019.
  56. U.S. Treasury Office of the Assistant Secretary for Economic Policy. 1984. The Effects of Deficits on Prices of Financial Assets: Theory and Evidence. Economic Policy Research Paper, Washington: U.S. Department of Treasury.Google Scholar
  57. Wagner, A. James. 1974. “Weather and Circulation of July 1974 – Heat Wave and Drought Over the Middle Third of the Country.” Monthly Weather Review 102: 736–742.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  58. Wagner, Richard, Robert D. Tollison, Alvin Rabushka, and John T. Noonan, Jr. 1982. Balanced Budgets, Fiscal Responsibility, and the Constitution. Washington, DC: Cato Institute.Google Scholar
  59. Wallison, Peter J. 2003. “Is George W. Bush Following the Reagan Model? A Lecture at the Ronald Reagan Library.” American Enterprise Institute. March 19. Accessed June 2019, 2019.
  60. White, Joseph, and Aaron Wildavsky. 1989. The Deficit and the Public Interest: The Search for Responsible Federal Budgeting in the 1980s. Berkeley, CA: University of California Press.Google Scholar
  61. Wildavsky, Aaron. 1988. The New Politics of the Budget Process. Glenview, IL: Scott, Foresman & Co.Google Scholar
  62. Winfree, Paul. 2017. “How Enacted Reconciliation Bills Have Changed the Deficit.” N58 Policy Research Blog. December 29. Accessed June 21, 2019.
  63. Wolverson, Roya. 2010. “Midterm Elections 2010: Spending Wars.” Council on Foreign Relations. October 18. Accessed June 21, 2019.
  64. Yang, John E. 1990. “Budget Negotiators Meet at Andrews in Cheery, Summer-Camp Like Mood.” The Washington Post. September 8. Accessed June 21, 2019.

Copyright information

© The Author(s) 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  • Paul Winfree
    • 1
  1. 1.Heritage FoundationWashington, DCUSA

Personalised recommendations