Research Articles on Federal Fiscal Issues
These articles and publications address the various reasons groups seek to use Article V to propose a fiscal responsibility provision in the Constitution.
Debt, Deficits, and the BBA – by William Fruth
Can the US Debt Growth Be Stopped? Find this important work under “Books” above. In this book two respected economists examine how OEDC countries (particularly Switzerland and Sweden) responded to debt build-up during and after the great recession. Their extensive studies have led the authors to identify fundamental changes that they recommend in US budget processes to get America on a path toward reduced national debt.
Adm. Mike Mullen: Debt is still biggest threat to U.S. security – an interview published in Fortune on May 10, 2012 – by Geoff Colvin.
Former top military officer sees national debt as biggest threat to country – Published in the Washington Examiner on January 21, 2014 – by Tim Mark. This is a more recent interview with the former chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Mike Mullen.
The Long Story of U.S. Debt, From 1790 to 2011, in 1 Little Chart – Published in The Atlantic on November 13, 2012 – by Matt Phillips.
This piece is much more than a “little chart”. Unfortunately the data only extend through 2011, but it shows how the United States has managed to become the world’s biggest debtor.
“National Debt,” Just Facts: A Resource for Independent Thinkers reports that since the 1960s money coming into the federal government has consistently ranged between 17 and 20 percent of the national GDP… but spending has ranged between 17 and 26 percent of GDP.
Investing in North American Competitiveness is a report by the George W. Bush Institute. It says the United States “must put its long-term fiscal and monetary trajectory on a sustainable course.” It reports that “The US ratio of government debt to GDP is currently 77 percent, a historically high level for the United States, and is projected to climb to 141 percent of GDP in 2046”.
Higher Interest Rates Will Raise Interest Costs on the National Debt warns about the impact of rising interest rates on the federal budget. The report says, “Ballooning interest costs threaten to crowd out important public investments that can fuel economic growth in the future. In its most recent long-term budget report, CBO estimates that by 2046, interest costs are projected to be more than double what the federal government has historically spent on R&D, nondefense infrastructure, and education, combined.”
Capitulation before the first shots are fired is an article by respected economist Dr. Barry Poulson. It was published in American Thinker. In the article Poulson suggests that now that Republicans control both Houses of Congress and the Executive branch they could finally break through the budget gridlock. But, he says, “Republicans seem to have capitulated before the battle has begun.”
NCSL Fiscal Brief on State Balanced Budget Provisions. Activists argue that most states operate under some form of balanced budget constraints… and the federal government should too. As of October 2010 the National Conference of State Legislatures reported that (*depending on definitions) 49 states have statutory or constitutional requirements that their state budget must balance spending against revenue. Their full NCSL report is here.
The United States Has No Fiscal Space Left This is an op-ed published at RealClearPolicy.com on June 21, 2017 by economists John Merrifield and Barry Poulson. It contends that fiscal policies and budgets currently being proposed by Congress and President Trump fall far short of what is needed. They say, “Fiscal space is estimated as the distance between actual debt levels and their estimated limit. Debt limits are measured by the level of debt at which the government defaults and loses market access, with the result that it cannot continue to service the debt.” They argue, “[I]f the United States had enacted fiscal rules to constrain deficits and debt over the past two decades — as some OECD countries have done — the national debt could have been reduced below tolerance levels by relying on orthodox fiscal policies. Thus a modest reduction in the rate of growth in spending and entitlement reform could have balanced the budget.”