Thursday, April 11, 2013

A Disappointing, Procyclical, and Highly Politicized Budget

The White House has officially unveiled its budget for fiscal year 2014. I hope to have a chance to look at some of the numbers and programs in depth over the coming weeks, but the overview alone confirms what many leaks have suggested, namely, that this is a disappointing, highly politicized document. Here are some first impressions:

A commitment to continued procyclical austerity

The first thing the proposal makes clear is that the White House has joined Congressional Republicans in a bi-partisan commitment to austerity. It promises $1.8 trillion of additional fiscal consolidation over 10 years, in addition to $2.5 trillion already achieved, about the same as the GOP is looking for. The only difference is a fig leaf’s worth of proposed new revenue in the White House version, $1 for each $2 of spending cuts.

Under the proposal, federal tax receipts would reach 20 percent of GDP by 2020, about same as would have been allowed by such conservative initiatives as a balanced budget amendment proposed last year by Sen. Orin Hatch. True, some Republicans have held out for a still lower target, but even capping tax receipts at 20 percent of GDP would, in view of the demographic realities of an aging population, mean a much smaller government than Americans have become accustomed to during most of the post-World War II period. (See here for some relevant charts.)

The path of fiscal policy under the budget proposed by the White House continues the procyclical pattern that has prevailed for most of the past decade. A countercyclical policy would move the structural balance (that is, the surplus or deficit adjusted to take account the state of the business cycle) toward deficit when the economy is operating below its potential and toward surplus only after it approaches or reaches full employment. Instead, the pattern since 2010, and continued under the budget plan, is exactly the opposite.>>>Read more

No comments:

Post a Comment