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Separation of Powers and the Budget Process

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  • Gene M. Grossman
  • Elhanan Helpman

Abstract

We study budget formation in a model featuring separation of powers. In our model, the legislature designs a budget bill that can include a cap on total spending and earmarked allocations to designated public projects. Each project provides random benefits to one of many interest groups. The legislature can delegate spending decisions to the executive, who can observe the productivity of all projects before choosing which to fund. However, the ruling coalition in the legislature and the executive serve different constituencies, so their interests are not perfectly aligned. We consider settings that differ in terms of the breadth and overlap in the constituencies of the two branches, and associate these with the political systems and circumstances under which they most naturally arise. Earmarks are more likely to occur when the executive serves broad interests, while a binding budget cap arises when the executive%u2019s constituency is more narrow than that of the powerful legislators.

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Bibliographic Info

Paper provided by National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc in its series NBER Working Papers with number 12332.

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Date of creation: Jun 2006
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Publication status: published as Grossman, Gene M. & Helpman, Elhanan, 2008. "Separation of powers and the budget process," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 92(3-4), pages 407-425, April.
Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:12332

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  1. Alberto Alesina & Roberto Perotti, 1996. "Budget Deficits and Budget Institutions," IMF Working Papers 96/52, International Monetary Fund.
  2. Manuel Amador & Iván Werning & George-Marios Angeletos, 2006. "Commitment vs. Flexibility," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 74(2), pages 365-396, 03.
  3. James M. Poterba & Jürgen von Hagen, 1999. "Fiscal Institutions and Fiscal Performance," NBER Books, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc, number pote99-1.
  4. Persson, Torsten & Tabellini, Guido, 1997. "Political Economics and Macroeconomic Policy," CEPR Discussion Papers 1759, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  5. Sean Gailmard, 2002. "Expertise, Subversion, and Bureaucratic Discretion," Journal of Law, Economics and Organization, Oxford University Press, vol. 18(2), pages 536-555, October.
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Cited by:
  1. Jeremy Jackson, 2013. "Tax earmarking, party politics and gubernatorial veto: theory and evidence from US states," Public Choice, Springer, vol. 155(1), pages 1-18, April.
  2. Leandro M. De Magalhães & Lucas Ferrero, 2009. "Budgetary Separation of Powers in the American States and the Tax Level: A Regression Discontinuity Design," The Centre for Market and Public Organisation 09/225, Department of Economics, University of Bristol, UK.
  3. Thomas Braendle & Alois Stutzer, 2013. "Political selection of public servants and parliamentary oversight," Economics of Governance, Springer, vol. 14(1), pages 45-76, February.
  4. Olper, Alessandro & Raimondi, Valentina, 2009. "Constitutional Rules and Agricultural Policy Outcomes," Agricultural Distortions Working Paper 50304, World Bank.
  5. Krogstrup, Signe & Wyplosz, Charles, 2010. "A common pool theory of supranational deficit ceilings," European Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 54(2), pages 269-278, February.
  6. Leandro De Magalhães & Lucas Ferrero, 2012. "Separation of Powers and the Size of Government in the U.S. States Abstract: According to our model effective 'budgetary' separation of power occurs in the states with the line-item veto when the Gove," The Centre for Market and Public Organisation 12/285, Department of Economics, University of Bristol, UK.
  7. Krogstrup, Signe & Wyplosz, Charles, 2006. "A Common Pool Theory of Deficit Bias Correction," CEPR Discussion Papers 5866, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  8. Benjamin E. Diokno, 2010. "Philippine fiscal behavior in recent history," Philippine Review of Economics, University of the Philippines School of Economics and Philippine Economic Society, vol. 47(1), pages 39-87, June.

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