PLAP220 Midterm

PLAP220 Midterm - Midterm Examination Question: What is...

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Midterm Examination Question: What is “classical budgeting” and what happened to it? Consider incrementalism and the theories of budgeting that critiqued and followed it, taking into account actual changes in budgeting practices that reflected these theoretical developments. Joseph Lieberman, the American Senator from the state of Connecticut, once exclaimed, “Budget reform is the gateway challenge that must be met before we can actually get back to fiscal responsibility.” 1 Lieberman’s statement highlights the integral role of the Federal Budget in modern-day American politics. Issues pertaining to the budget are frequently discussed by politicians, journalists, and members of the public, who demonstrate both an increasing awareness of the importance of the budget, and a desire to understand its many complications and effects on society. An understanding of the budgeting process in the United States must begin with a consideration of the evolution of the process itself. The purpose of this essay is to elaborate upon the progression of contemporary theories and practices in American national budgeting. An explanation of “classical budgeting” will first be presented, followed by an analysis of its criticisms and the resulting modifications in the process. Although some forms of budgeting can be found as early as the 1800s, the beginnings of what is known as the “classical budgeting” period can be traced back to the end of World War II, when a victorious America had to deal with fundamental changes in the postwar economy (Wildavsky, 43). According to Aaron Wildavsky, classical budgeting was “premised upon agreement on the size, scope, and distribution of expenditure…conflict was confined to the margins,” (Wildavsky, 44). Traditional practices and procedures were frequently accepted on the assumption that there was a basis of understanding that was agreed upon by those involved in the process. 1 Quote obtained from Brainy Quote Database (http://www.brainyquote.com/quotes/quotes/j/joelieberm187477.html)
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P a g e | 2 There were several preexisting conditions that serve as grounds for justifying this approach to budgeting. First, the economy was experiencing a period of growth, and revenues and expenditures were relatively equal. During these economic conditions, radical changes in taxation and spending seemed unnecessary. Second, the postwar administrations of Truman and Eisenhower, along with fiscally conservative majorities in Congress, had similar economic objectives, including a balanced budget and limited government. Third, limitations of capacity prevented significant disagreements regarding the budget. As Representative George Mahon adequately put it, “no human being regardless of his position…and capacity could possibly be familiar with all the items of appropriations contained in [a] defense bill,” (Wildavsky 45). It thus seems rational that the process involved nothing more than what was deemed to be a manageable analysis of the budget.
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PLAP220 Midterm - Midterm Examination Question: What is...

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