The U.S. Fiscal Problem: Where We Are, How We Got Here and Where We're Going
This paper deals with several issues regarding the causes and implications of recent and projected U.S. federal budget deficits. It considers why deficits have remained so large in spite of deficit reduction efforts, evaluates the impact of the recent policies of the Clinton administration, and offers long-range deficit projections. Among the paper's findings are: 1. Until the past year, deficit projections over the past decade have been consistently too optimistic; had initial projections for the current fiscal year proved accurate, the deficit-reducing policies of the early 1990s already would have driven the federal budget well into surplus; there is no single explanation for these large and systematic forecasting errors. 2. The budget rules that legislators have developed to control deficits, including those now in effect, are ill-designed for their apparent purpose. They fail to compensate for forecasting errors and encourage shifts in the timing of revenues and expenditures. The paper presents evidence that such shifting has followed the incentives of the different schemes. 3. The projected decline in the deficit as a share of GDP over the next few years reflects not only the policies already enacted but also the continuation of significant real reductions in discretionary spending -- representing a drop of 2.2 percent of GDP between 1994 and 2004. 4. Even if such optimistic forecasts prove to be correct, longer run projections suggest that current fiscal policy is unsustainable. Without any growth in the relative price of health care, the
|Date of creation:||Apr 1994|
|Date of revision:|
|Publication status:||published as Fischer, Stanley and Julio Rotemberg (eds.) NBER Macroeconomics Annual 1994. Cambridge: MIT Press, 1994.|
|Contact details of provider:|| Postal: National Bureau of Economic Research, 1050 Massachusetts Avenue Cambridge, MA 02138, U.S.A.|
Web page: http://www.nber.org
More information through EDIRC
Please report citation or reference errors to , or , if you are the registered author of the cited work, log in to your RePEc Author Service profile, click on "citations" and make appropriate adjustments.:
- Alan J. Auerbach & Jagadeesh Gokhale & Laurence J. Kotlikoff, 1991.
"Generational Accounts: A Meaningful Alternative to Deficit Accounting,"
in: Tax Policy and the Economy, Volume 5, pages 55-110
National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
- Alan J. Auerbach & Jagadeesh Gokhale & Laurence J. Kotlikoff, 1991. "Generational Accounts - A Meaningful Alternative to Deficit Accounting," NBER Working Papers 3589, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
- Alan J. Auerbach & Jagadeesh Gokhale & Laurence J. Kotlikoff, 1991. "Generational accounts: a meaningful alternative to deficit accounting," Working Paper 9103, Federal Reserve Bank of Cleveland.
- Barro, Robert J., 1979.
"On the Determination of the Public Debt,"
3451400, Harvard University Department of Economics.
- Reischauer, Robert D., 1990. "Taxes and Spending Under Gramm-Rudman-Hollings," National Tax Journal, National Tax Association, vol. 43(3), pages 223-32, September.
- Daniel Feenberg & James Poterba, 1992.
"Income Inequality and the Incomes of Very High Income Taxpayers: Evidence from Tax Returns,"
NBER Working Papers
4229, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
- Daniel R. Feenberg & James M. Poterba, 1993. "Income Inequality and the Incomes of Very High-Income Taxpayers: Evidence from Tax Returns," NBER Chapters, in: Tax Policy and the Economy, Volume 7, pages 145-177 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
- Feenberg, D.R. & Poterba, J.M., 1992. "Income Inequality and the Incomes of Very High Income Taxpayers: Evidence from Tax Returns," Working papers 92-16, Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), Department of Economics.
- Hamilton, James D & Flavin, Marjorie A, 1986.
"On the Limitations of Government Borrowing: A Framework for EmpiricalTesting,"
American Economic Review,
American Economic Association, vol. 76(4), pages 808-19, September.
- James D. Hamilton & Marjorie A. Flavin, 1985. "On the Limitations of Government Borrowing: A Framework for Empirical Testing," NBER Working Papers 1632, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
- White, Halbert, 1980. "A Heteroskedasticity-Consistent Covariance Matrix Estimator and a Direct Test for Heteroskedasticity," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 48(4), pages 817-38, May.
- V. V. Chari & Lawrence J. Christiano & Patrick J. Kehoe, 1993.
"Optimal fiscal policy in a business cycle model,"
160, Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis.
- Gramlich, Edward M, 1990. "U.S. Federal Budget Deficits and Gramm-Rudman-Hollings," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 80(2), pages 75-80, May.
- Jane G. Gravelle, 1993. "Estimating Long-Run Revenue Effects of Tax Law Changes," Eastern Economic Journal, Eastern Economic Association, vol. 19(4), pages 481-494, Fall.
When requesting a correction, please mention this item's handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:4709. See general information about how to correct material in RePEc.
If references are entirely missing, you can add them using this form.