Balancing the federal budget: eating the seed corn or trimming the herds?

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Chatham House Publishers/Seven Bridges Press, 2003 - Business & Economics - 318 pages
In this timely new book, one of America's most respected public administration analysts focuses her attention on how government tried and eventually succeeded in balancing the US federal budget in 1998. With characteristic insight and a lively narrative, Rubin describes the successive efforts of Congress and the administration over seventeen years to shape a process that would encourage balance and the reactions of federal agencies to the pressure. The story of the damage done to agencies as they dealt with reductions and how long it took to recover is told here for the first time. This book asks and answers such crucial questions such as: Did Washington prioritize wisely, trimming back programs in a rational and efficient manner, or did it cut what was easy to cut or what was politically attractive to the party in power? The true drama of politics on Capitol Hill is rendered more vividly by Rubin's own experience working in Washington, D.C., and her personal interviews with the players involved.Most important, the story that Rubin tells in this book is ongoing, as the Bush administration and Republicans face the consequences of their huge tax cuts while funding the war on terrorism and seeking to restore confidence in a shaken economy.

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What Happened and What Was Learned
Bureau of Labor Statistics
Budget Offices

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About the author (2003)

Irene S. Rubin is Professor of Public Administration at Northern Illinois University.  She is the author of Running in the Red: The Political Dynamics of Urban Fiscal Stress, Shrinking the Federal Government, Class Tax and Power: Municipal Budgeting in the United States, and Balancing the Federal Budget: Eating the Seed Corn or Trimming the Herds, all four of which rely extensively on qualitative interviews.  She has written journal articles about citizen participation in local level government in Thailand, how universities adapt when their budgets are cut, and fights between legislative staffers and elected and appointed officials about unworkable policy proposals, all based on qualitative interviews.  She is in the middle of an interviewing project about how local officials view and use contracts with the private sector and with other governmental units to provide public services.