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.:
- 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.
- Feenberg, D.R. & Poterba, J.M., 1992.
"Income Inequality and the Incomes of Very High Income Taxpayers: Evidence from Tax Returns,"
92-16, Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), Department of Economics.
- 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.
- 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.
- Barro, Robert J, 1979.
"On the Determination of the Public Debt,"
Journal of Political Economy,
University of Chicago Press, vol. 87(5), pages 940-71, October.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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," NBER Chapters, 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," Working Paper 9103, Federal Reserve Bank of Cleveland.
- Reischauer, Robert D., 1990. "Taxes and Spending Under Gramm-Rudman-Hollings," National Tax Journal, National Tax Association, vol. 43(3), pages 223-32, September.
- 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.
- Chari, V V & Christiano, Lawrence J & Kehoe, Patrick J, 1994.
"Optimal Fiscal Policy in a Business Cycle Model,"
Journal of Political Economy,
University of Chicago Press, vol. 102(4), pages 617-52, August.
- V. V. Chari & Lawrence J. Christiano & Patrick J. Kehoe, 1993. "Optimal fiscal policy in a business cycle model," Staff Report 160, Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis.
- V. V. Chari & Lawrence J. Christiano & Patrick J. Kehoe, 1993. "Optimal Fiscal Policy in a Business Cycle Model," NBER Working Papers 4490, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
When requesting a correction, please mention this item's handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:4709. See general information about how to correct material in RePEc.
For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: ()
If references are entirely missing, you can add them using this form.