RubinsTextP3 - 76 The Politics of Public Budgeting the...

Info icon This preview shows page 1. Sign up to view the full content.

View Full Document Right Arrow Icon
Image of page 1
This is the end of the preview. Sign up to access the rest of the document.

Unformatted text preview: ' 76 The Politics of Public Budgeting the option of borrowing. Spending caps for particular areas of the budget may also eliminate particular expenditure options from consideration. Although many constraints are determined by the political actors in any given jurisdiction, in the United States the budget process also reflects constraints imposed by other levels of government. For example, the federal government may constrain state and local budgeting by requiring particular programs without pro- viding sufficient funds to carry out those mandates. States can limit the amount of borrowing that local governments engage in, require that local budgets balance, determine the format of budget documents, or specify who may put a budget request together, such as a finance director, a budget officer, or a municipal clerk. States can also mandate that their local governments spend money on particu— lar programs or increase spending for particular purposes. Macro and Micro Politics Because the budget process influences policy outcomes and political power, polit— ical actors continually try to shape it. Some seek macro changes, in an effort to bring about major policy shifts and lock them in over time. Others seek micro changes, short-term deviations or alterations in the rules addressed to specific beneficiaries, often for partisan gain. Macro policy goals can include stimulating the economy during a recession, reducing the gap in wealth between the rich and the poor, balancing the budget, or shrinking the size and intrusiveness of government. One example of political actors’ trying to achieve macro policy change through the budget process occurred when some conservative Republicans in Washington proposed restruc- turing the budget process to encourage tax reduction. Presumably they hoped not only to reduce the level of taxation, but also to reduce the scope of government services. By contrast, when political actors are seeking micro political goals, they jockey for power to influence particular decisions that may affect only one com- pany or interest group. This second group may ignore, bend, or change the rules without regard for long—term or broader policy consequences. For example, one group of congresspersons raised the caps on discretionary spending to increase outlays for highways and pork-type projects. These members of Congress did not argue that the caps themselves were wrong. They wanted to influence the outcome of a specific decision, not the rules that structure the outcomes more broadly. The rules were just in the way. The two minicases in the boxes that follow illustrate macro and micro strate- gies with respect to the budget process. The first describes an effort of Republicans in Congress to change the process to control the growth of government, reducing taxes and cutting spending. The second illustrates the way rules can be used and The Politics of Process 77 abused for short-term political and policy gain, without regard to broader policy issues. The chief Democratic counsel for the Senate Budget Committee in Washington, Bill Dauster, gave a partisan speech in 1996, pointing out a number of rule changes or evasions that the Republicans had devised for short-term advantage or to benefit a single constituent. It is not only Republicans who do such things when they are in the majority, but in this example, a Democrat was commenting on Republican behavior (see the minicases on pages 78 and 80). Designing Process to Achieve Policy and Political Goals Budget actors try to design and alter budget processes to produce the results they hope for, whether on a broad scale or in specific cases. Participants’ efforts to change the process help make clear how particular parts of the budget process are intended or expected to work to achieve particular policy and power outcomes. What follows is a discussion of the parts of budget processes that political actors can change and the goals they hope to achieve through those changes. Budget Process and Policy A variety of features in budget processes may be used to achieve particular pol- icy goals. For example, if elected officials feel the need to build public trust, then the budget process should emphasize openness, solicitation of public opinion, and a variety of means of demonstrating not only that public priorities have been fol- lowed, but also that the programs are well managed and effective. Budget docu— ments are likely to be laid out in programs, each of which has performance measures that show what was planned and what was actually accomplished. If the goal of the budget process is to reduce spending, then the process may emphasize constraints such as spending caps and build in incentives for end-of- year savings. Budget rules may create lockboxes, or prohibitions on transfers between funds or accounts, so that savings in one area are not used to increase spending somewhere else. Budget actors may change the assumptions on which future budgets are built, reducing or eliminating baselines that include inflation costs. They may build in automatic cuts if various actions are not taken. Target— based or zero-based budgets may facilitate prioritization for cutting or reducing some programs. The format of the budget—that is, the way the budget document lays out infor- mation for decision making—is one of the key ways in which process influences policy. One reason is that collecting particular information in a particular way, and presenting only that information in the budget, influences the analysis and dis— cussion of budgetary decisions. The second reason is that some so-called formats ,, ——.— ...
View Full Document

{[ snackBarMessage ]}

What students are saying

  • Left Quote Icon

    As a current student on this bumpy collegiate pathway, I stumbled upon Course Hero, where I can find study resources for nearly all my courses, get online help from tutors 24/7, and even share my old projects, papers, and lecture notes with other students.

    Student Picture

    Kiran Temple University Fox School of Business ‘17, Course Hero Intern

  • Left Quote Icon

    I cannot even describe how much Course Hero helped me this summer. It’s truly become something I can always rely on and help me. In the end, I was not only able to survive summer classes, but I was able to thrive thanks to Course Hero.

    Student Picture

    Dana University of Pennsylvania ‘17, Course Hero Intern

  • Left Quote Icon

    The ability to access any university’s resources through Course Hero proved invaluable in my case. I was behind on Tulane coursework and actually used UCLA’s materials to help me move forward and get everything together on time.

    Student Picture

    Jill Tulane University ‘16, Course Hero Intern