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Reforming Budgetary Language

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  • David F. Bradford

Abstract

In the context of several examples of problems associated with present budgetary conventions, I revisit Musgrave's conceptual division of the government's program into Allocation, Distribution and Stabilization Branch subbudgets. I suggest progress towards Musgrave's ideal of a more informative budgetary 'language,' one less dependent on arbitrary institutional labeling, must be based on the nonarbitrary description of the individual's economic environment, as it is affected by government. As a first approximation, that environment can be summed up in terms of the individual's budget constraint and levels of public goods provided. Simple models suggest that an unambiguous budgetary language may be feasible but there remains much to clarify about both the objectives of the exercise and the specifics of methods to deal with particular problems.

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Bibliographic Info

Paper provided by National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc in its series NBER Working Papers with number 8500.

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Date of creation: Oct 2001
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Publication status: published as Cnossen, Sijbren and Ahns-Werner Sinn (eds.) Public finance and public policy in the new century, CESifo Seminar Series. Cambridge and London: MIT Press, 2003.
Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:8500

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  1. David F. Bradford & Derrick A. Max, 1996. "Implicit Budget Deficits: The Case of a Mandated Shift to Community-Rated Health Insurance," NBER Working Papers 5514, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  2. Alan J. Auerbach & Laurence J. Kotlikoff & Willi Leibfritz, 1999. "Generational Accounting around the World," NBER Books, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc, number auer99-1, octubre-d.
  3. Shaviro, Daniel, 1997. "Do Deficits Matter?," University of Chicago Press Economics Books, University of Chicago Press, edition 1, number 9780226751122, April.
  4. Alan J. Auerbach & Laurence J. Kotlikoff & Willi Leibfritz, 1999. "Introduction to "Generational Accounting around the World"," NBER Chapters, in: Generational Accounting around the World, pages 1-8 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  5. Allen, Franklin, 1982. "Optimal linear income taxation with general equilibrium effects on wages," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 17(2), pages 135-143, March.
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Cited by:
  1. Leonard E. Burman & Marvin Phaup, 2011. "Tax Expenditures, the Size and Efficiency of Government, and Implications for Budget Reform," NBER Working Papers 17268, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.

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