Can We Make Ends Meet? Essay

1887 words - 8 pages

- -CAN WE MAKE ENDS MEET?Should the government balance the federal budget? One mightassune assume that it would be good to balance the federal budget.However, a few economic thinkers disagree and have suggested newparadigms. For the last sixty years, the government has run budgetdeficits as a primary method for stimulating economies with highunemployment rates. In theory, the budget should return to balance orsurplus during boom times.According to the article, 'The Balanced Budget ConstitutionalAmendment,' (Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, January 9,1995), the Reagan administration cut taxes to such a degree that theUnited States would forever face high deficits, regardless of how hotthe economy was. The writers of that article believe the answer is nota balanced-budget amendment because they believe it would preventthe federal government from combating recessions:Worse yet, under such an amendment, the federal governmentwould be forced to make recessions worse. When the economyslows down, income and Social Security tax revenues drop, due tofalling wages and profits. Meanwhile, costs for some programs,such as unemployment compensation, rise.These changes automatically put the federal budget into deficit,even if a balanced budget had been planned at the beginning ofthe fiscal year. If a constitutional amendment requires thegovernment to balance spending and revenues at the end of theyear (not just in the original plan), then the White House would beforced to cut spending or raise tax rates, thereby slowing theeconomy down, just at the time when it is most in need of stimulus.One argument for a balanced is as follows: Deficits force the FederalGovernment to borrow money on the capital markets. ThatGovernment borrowing competes with businesses borrowing to buyfactories and machines that make workers more productive and raiseincomes; and with families borrowing to buy new homes, cars, andother goods that provide valuable services for years.The competition for funds tends to produce higher interest rates.Also, deficits increase the national debt and, through it, theGovernment's obligation to pay interest. The more it must pay toservice its debt, the less it has available to spend on education, lawenforcement, and other important services, or the more it must collectin taxes forever after.Today, the Government must spend 40 percent of every personalincome tax dollar to pay interest on the national debtRecent deficits have not financed investments. Instead, they havemerely helped the Government to pay its day-to-day bills. Under thosecircumstances, future generations will inherit a debt for which theyreceive no real benefit.One difficulty with government budgets is that economic conditionsare subject to change, causing receipts and outlays to be quitedifferent from what was planned. If unemployment increases by just asmall percentage, for example, the government may lose billions ofdollars because of less income from tax receipts and higher...

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