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Truth, Fantasy, and the Huge Federal Budget Mess

Joe White, Ph.D. - Luxenberg Family Professor of Public Policy, Director of the Center for Policy Studies, and Chair of the Department of Political Science

Friday February 6, 2009
12:30-1:30 p.m.
Crawford Hall - Room 9
Inamori Center
Case Western Reserve University

Dear Colleagues,

The fate of the Obama presidency depends greatly on how it handles the budget.

The budget may seem a matter of boring numbers, but those numbers shape policy, shape politics, and actually are policy, and they set constraints on what the new President and Congress can do about the economy, health care, and many other challenges.

Beliefs about budgeting divide the new Congress. All House Republicans voted against President Obama's stimulus package while claiming that it spent too much. More importantly, the swing "Blue Dog" Democrats are defined by their budget concerns, and they can be expected to get ever more nervous about the potential deficits created by the spending plans of their new President.

The situation is made even more difficult because the economic crash means the President will be pressured to move in two directions at once - raising deficits now to stimulate the economy, while somehow promising to reduce them in only a few years as the aging of baby boomers raises spending for Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid. It also makes it more difficult for President Obama to fulfill his pledge to let some of President Bush's tax cuts expire, while Congressional Budget rules mean that if he does not let them all expire, he will be accused of increasing the deficit!

Professor White will lay out the problem and then we can discuss what the President and Congress could possibly do to cope with it.

As usual, we will gather in Room 9 of the Inamori International Center for Ethics and Excellence, on the lower level of Crawford Hall, for free cookies, beverages, and brown bag lunch.

Best regards,
Joe White

About Our Guest

Professor White came to Case in 2000 as Professor of Political Science and Director of the Center for Policy Studies, and became Department Chair in 2003. He came to Cleveland from New Orleans, where he was Associate Professor of Health Systems Management in the School of Public Health and Tropical Medicine at Tulane University. Previously he was a Research Associate and then Senior Fellow at the Brookings Institution in Washington, D.C. He received his A.B. from the University of Chicago and his M.A. and Ph.D. from the University of California, Berkeley.

Dr. White's research interests and publications have focused on federal budgeting policy and politics, Congress, health care finance in the United States and other countries, Social Security and Medicare. His most recent book is False Alarm: Why the Greatest Threat to Social Security and Medicare is the Campaign to Save Them (Johns Hopkins University Press 2001; Paperback with new postscript, 2003). He is also the author of Competing Solutions: American Health Care Proposals and International Experience (Brookings, 1995) and, with Aaron Wildavsky, of The Deficit and the Public Interest: The Search for Responsible Budgeting in the 1980s (University of California Press and The Russell Sage Foundation, 1989; Paperback with postscript 1991). His most recent publications are "Making Connections to the Appropriations Process" in Paul Herrnson et al. eds., The Interest Group Connection 2nd ed (CQ Press, forthcoming); "How is Aging a Health Policy Problem?" in Yale Journal of Health Policy, Law and Ethics 4:1 (Winter, 2004); and "Three Meanings of Capacity; Or, Why the Federal Government Is Most Likely to Lead on Insurance Access Issues" in Journal of Health Politics, Policy and Law 28:2-3 (April-June, 2003).

His courses include The American Political System,; The Public Policy Process; Bureacratic Politics in the U.S.; Legislative Politics; Comparative Public Policy; Interest Groups in the Policy Process; and Politics, Policy and Tobacco. In addition, as Director of the Center for Policy Studies Dr. White organizes public programming on issues ranging from "War and Peace between the United States and Iraq" to the teaching of "Intelligent Design" theory in Ohio public schools, and from NASA's Mission to Mars to national missile defense. For more information on the Center for Policy Studies; for more on Professor White's research (PDF).

Friday Lunch Upcoming Topics and Speakers:

February 13: The U.S. and the Palestinians. Stacie Pettyjohn, Visiting Instructor in Political Science, CWRU

February 20: China's Economy and Chinese Politics. Paul Schroeder, Visiting Assistant Professor of Political Science, CWRU

February 27: The New (Maybe) Israeli Government. With Michael B. Oren, Senior Fellow, The Shalem Center, Jerusalem; and Peter J. Haas, Abba Hillel Silver Professor of Jewish Studies.

March 6: TBA

March 20: TBA

March 27: Promise and Problems of Alternative Dispute Resolution. Bill Leatherberry, Professor of Law , CWRU.

April 3: TBA

April 10: Exonerating the Innocent: The Impact of DNA Evidence. Paul Gianelli, Weatherhead Professor of Law, CWRU.

April 17: CWRU Students Report on the Election in El Salvador.

April 24: TBA.

The Friday Lunch discussions are held on the lower (ground) level of Crawford Hall.  Visitors with mobility issues may find it easiest to take advantage of special arrangements we have made.  On most Fridays, a few parking spaces in the V.I.P. lot in between Crawford Hall and Amasa Stone Chapel are held for participants in the lunch discussion. 

Visitors then can avoid walking up the hill to the first floor of Crawford by entering the building on the ground level, through the garage area under the building.  The further door on the left in that garage will be left unlocked during the period before the Friday lunch.  On occasion, parking will be unavailable because of other university events.

For more information about these and other Center for Policy Studies programs, please see

February 2, 2009

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Upcoming Events

The Code of the Warrior

Shannon E. French, Ph.D., Director, Inamori International Center for Ethics and Excellence

Tuesday February, 10, 2009, 4:30 p.m.-5:30 p.m., Moot Court Room (A59), Case Western Reserve University Law School, 11075 East Blvd., Cleveland, OH

Why do warriors need a code? Are the laws of war necessary? Are they enough? What can – and what should – motivate combat troops to show restraint in the “fog of war”? These are some of the questions Dr. French will address in her talk, along with related issues such as what returning warriors need and deserve from the society that sent them to war and what can be done to ease warrior transitions back into civilian life. Dr. French will also touch on the question of whether you can separate out questions about the just conduct of war from judgments about whether the war itself is a just endeavor. Is it possible to be an honorable warrior in an unjust cause?

Dr. French became the new Director of the Inamori Center on September 8, 2008. She is also the Inamori Professor in Ethics and a tenured faculty member in the Department of Philosophy in the College of Arts and Sciences. Dr. French was previously on the civilian faculty of the U.S. Naval Academy from 1997 to 2008 and served as Associate Chair of the Department of Leadership, Ethics, and Law. She received a B.A. degree from Trinity University, San Antonio, Texas. Her Ph.D. thesis at Brown University (Providence, RI) was titled, "The Problem of Motivating Ethical Behavior." Dr. French's research and scholarly interests include military ethics, leadership ethics, professional ethics, moral psychology, biomedical ethics, and environmental ethics.

A Nation in Fragments: Iraq and Archaeology

Magnus T. Bernhardsson, Department of History, Williams - His book on the topic of illicit trade in antiquities was given a lengthy and favorable review in a recent edition of The New York Review of Books.

Friday March 27, 2009, 4:30 p.m. , Recital Hall, Cleveland Museum of Art, Wade Oval, Cleveland, Ohio.

Magnus T. Bernhardsson specializes in the modern Middle East, specifically the political and cultural history of Hashmite Iraq (1921-1958). After earning his B.A. degree in theology and political science at the University of Iceland, he came to the United States and completed at Masters Degree in Religion from Yale Divinity School in 1992. After a year in Syria studying Arabic, he returned to Yale and finished a Ph.D in Middle Eastern History in 1999. He is the author of several books and edited volumes including Reclaiming a Plundered Past. Archaeology and Nation Building in Modern Iraq (Texas, 2005). When not playing soccer with his children, he is researching and writing a book on religion and nationalism in modern Iraq.

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