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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.

Suggested Citation

  • David F. Bradford, 2001. "Reforming Budgetary Language," NBER Working Papers 8500, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  • Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:8500 Note: PE
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. 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.
    2. 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.
    3. David F. Bradford & Derrick A. Max, 1997. "Implicit Budget Deficits: The Case of a Mandated Shift to Community-Rated Health Insurance," NBER Chapters,in: Tax Policy and the Economy, Volume 11, pages 129-168 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    4. Shaviro, Daniel, 1997. "Do Deficits Matter?," University of Chicago Press Economics Books, University of Chicago Press, edition 1, number 9780226751122.
    5. Auerbach, Alan J. & Kotlikoff, Laurence J. & Leibfritz, Willi (ed.), 1999. "Generational Accounting around the World," National Bureau of Economic Research Books, University of Chicago Press, edition 1, number 9780226032139.
    6. Cardarelli, Roberto & Sefton, James & Kotlikoff, Laurence J, 2000. "Generational Accounting in the UK," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 110(467), pages 547-574, November.
    7. David Bradford, 1995. "The Distributional Analysis of Tax Policy," Books, American Enterprise Institute, number 52866.
    8. 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, January.
    9. 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.
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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.

    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • H11 - Public Economics - - Structure and Scope of Government - - - Structure and Scope of Government
    • H20 - Public Economics - - Taxation, Subsidies, and Revenue - - - General

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