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The Federal Budget Essay

3063 words - 12 pages

The Federal Budget

The federal budget is known as the infamous monetary tank from which money is distributed to various programs. Why does the federal budget plan cause such uproar of approval or disapproval when it is proposed by the President every February? The money utilized every fiscal year, which runs from October 1st of each year until the end of September of the following year, belongs to the people. The money is raised through income taxes, excise taxes (taxes on goods) and social insurance payroll taxes. Presently, the public is worried about how they will receive a fair share of money appropriations in such a slow economy. The federal deficit has returned, which means that the government’s spending exceeds its raised revenues. The federal budget is an exercise in making choices, and these choices will inevitably make a dramatic impact on individuals living in the U.S.

Historical View

The present federal budget can be characterized by one word: deficit spending. It has been a way of life for the federal government since World War II. The last times that federal budget expenses were brought into balance with revenues were in 2000, 1998, 1969, and 1960. Prior to 1940, the federal budget was balanced, except in years of war and economic recession.

There are many theories to the causes of persistent federal budget deficits during the last forty years. Many experts believe the cause of the current deficit originates in policy mistakes of the 1980s, such as the reduction in taxes and increase in defense spending. Others believe that the American public is demanding more in government benefits than it is willing to pay for in taxes. However, the complex budget process may explain the persistent budget deficits.

The current budget process has a decentralized budget process. No one decides on the total amount the federal government will spend. Instead, legislative bills that determine the total amount of spending are divided up among fifteen separate committees in the Senate and seventeen committees in the House of Representatives. The Appropriations Committee has jurisdiction over non-entitlement programs (spending varies year to year based upon spending authorized by Congress), which covers one-third of total federal spending. The remaining two-thirds is made up of entitlement programs (spending authorized by permanent laws), which are handled by other standing committees. The agricultural committees have authority over farm price supports, food stamps, and other rural programs. The tax-writing committees in the House and Senate are responsible for Social Security and Medicare. The House Energy and Commerce Committee has jurisdiction over Medicaid.

The decentralization of spending authority creates deficit financing. By spreading the spending responsibility among so many committees, Congress has created a commons problems. Numerous...

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