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"The public finances are one of the best starting points for an investigation of society, especially though not exclusively of its political life. The full fruitfulness of this approach is seen particularly at those turning points, or better epochs, during which existing forms begin to die off and to change into something new. This is true both of the causal significance of fiscal policy and of the symptomatic significance. Notwithstanding all the qualifications which always have to be made ... we may surely speak of . . . a special field: fiscal sociology, of which much may be expected." -- Joseph Schumpeter
"Deficits don't matter." -- Vice-President Dick Cheney
"Follow the money." -- Deep Throat


Budgets reveal values. "The buck stops here," said President Harry Truman. How often do we hear the term bottom line. Every year, policies and programs seem to cost the taxpayer more money. The budget process, detailed and cumbersome, bores the average citizen, including those who study public policy. Yet, as every administrator knows, without a budget, nothing gets done.

Government spending is itself a controversial subject, separating liberals from conservatives.

Budgets are persistent, coming due every year. Let's examine the budget. Look over some on-line resources:

  1. One way is to go to the Office of Management and Budget summary tables.
  2. The industry standard for reliable non-partisan analysis of the budget is The Concord Coalition
  3. Or, for graphics and a straightforward explanation, try the citizen's guide to the U.S. budget
  4. Try a sophisticated budget simulation--it may surprise you.

Table of Contents

  1. The definition and significance of budget
  2. The budgetary process and agencies
  3. Overview of US federal budget
  4. Budgetary incrementalism
  5. State and local budgeting
  6. Comments on recent Presidents and their budgets

The Public Policy Cycle Web Site | Page: © Wayne Hayes, Ph.D. | ™ ProfWork |
Initialized: November 3, 2002 | Last Update: 11/9/2009