Balanced Budgets and the Withering of U.S. Fiscal Policy: The Outlines of a Postwar American Fiscal Constitution

47 Pages Posted: 4 Feb 2008  

Cameron Gordon

University of Canberra

Date Written: 1996

Abstract

In their famous book, Democracy in Deficit, James Buchanan and Richard Wagner define the notion of fiscal constitution: Whether they are incorporated formally in some legally binding and explicitly constitutional document or merely in a set of customary, traditional, and widely accepted precepts, we
can describe the prevailing rules guiding fiscal choice as a `fiscal constitution.'(Buchanan and Wagner 1977, 21) This paper analyzes the history of American fiscal policy from post-World War II to the Gramm-Rudman Act of 1985, using the fiscal constitution concept as a framework. The paper generally finds that the fiscal constitution loosened considerably during that period, but did appear to have some real tightening as a result of Gramm-Rudman.

Keywords: budget policy;budgets;fiscal constitution;fiscal policy;American fiscal policy;postwar fiscal policy;Kennedy Tax Cut;Gramm-Rudman;public choice

Suggested Citation

Gordon, Cameron, Balanced Budgets and the Withering of U.S. Fiscal Policy: The Outlines of a Postwar American Fiscal Constitution (1996). Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=1089295 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.1089295

Cameron Elliott Gordon (Contact Author)

University of Canberra ( email )

Canberra, Australian Capital Territory 2601
Australia
6201 2685 (Phone)

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