Part I. Introduction to Federal Budget Process and Policy | Howell E. Jackson | August 19, 2015

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Part I. Introduction to Federal Budget Process and Policy

Original Creator: Howell E. Jackson Current Version: Howell E. Jackson Show/Hide
For our first few classes, we will introduce the topic of the federal budget, exploring a recent controversy over FEMA spending, looking into the basic components of the current federal budget, and reviewing the historical evolution of federal budgeting. Our emphasis initially will be on congressional budget procedures, which will be the centerpiece of classes two through five.
As you read through these materials, consider how you would distinguish a good budget process from a bad one. What functions to you think a budget process should serve? What is the role of legal requirements in shaping budgeting for the government? To what extent should legal requirements constrain current political imperatives? EDIT PLAYLIST INFORMATION DELETE PLAYLIST

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  1. 1 Show/Hide More Class One -- Monday, January 4th, 2016
    Original Creator: Howell E. Jackson Current Version: Howell E. Jackson

    We will begin our first class with a discussion of the Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget's “Stabilize the Debt” exercise, an interactive game in which players try to make policy choices that will get the debt below 60 percent of GDP by 2024. Before you start the exercise, read over the Summary and Chapter 1 of the Congressional Budget Office's 2015 Update to get a quick overview of the major elements of the federal budget. Please do the CFRB's exercise yourself; print out your solution, and be ready to discuss and defend your plan in class.

    As further core reading for our initial class, please review the materials on FEMA Recoupment from Hurricane Sandy and then look over the CBO Update from August 2015, focusing on the Summary.

    You should also skim the version of the U.S. Constitution, which has been edited town to highlight the provisions related to fiscal policy.

    Then please read Chapter 2 of Allen Schick's “The Federal Budget” as an introduction to the evolution of the budgeting process from the founding to the present.

    Background readings (optional for most students, though one member of each team with a written assignment for each class should read each item): Excerpts from Aaron Widavsky's 1964 classic, “The Politics of the Budget Process,” are included for reference as an illustration of the budget process prior to the 1970s. Additionally, a recent student briefing paper, ““The History of the Congressional Appropriations Process, 1789-2014,” is included for reference.

    1. 1.4 Show/Hide More Dispute Over FEMA Sandy Recoupment
      Original Creator: Howell E. Jackson Current Version: Howell E. Jackson
      Read over materials on FEMA Recoupment. Why are members of Congress from New York and New Jersey upset with FEMA's practices with respect to the recoupment of overpayments? Should agencies like FEMA have more latitude to forgive debts? We will be revisiting this topic at the beginning of the second week of class when we discuss the Department of Education's ability to forgive student loan debt.
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December 29, 2015

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Howell E. Jackson

James S. Reid, Jr. Professor of Law

Harvard University

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