Wednesday, April 17, 2013
David Gamage (UC-Berkeley) presented The New Fiscal Politics, Government Shutdowns, and the Case for Default Budgets at Kentucky last week as part of its Faculty Brown Bag Workshop Series hosted by Jennifer Bird-Pollan:
At both the federal and state levels, the U.S. is in the midst of a dysfunctional era of budgetary politics. Budget negotiations are increasingly characterized by partisan brinkmanship and acrimony, game-of-chicken negotiations, and strong anti-tax sentiment, with the threat of government shutdowns lurking whenever new budget agreements cannot be reached. Drawing on political science work on legislative negotiation theory and several historical case studies of recent government shutdowns, this Article explains how the combination of trends that we label as the New Fiscal Politics results in regular budget negotiation failures, greatly increasing the risk of costly government shutdowns or near-shutdowns. Then, drawing on this diagnosis of budgetary dysfunctions, this Article advocates for the adoption of default budgets policies—automatic continuing appropriations which maintain government operations in the event that legislators fail to pass a budget on time. This Article explains how default budgets policies might be implemented to avert shutdowns and to stabilize the budget making process. Properly enacted, default budgets policies have the potential to mitigate the harmful consequences of budget negotiation failures and to restore order to our New Fiscal Politics.