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
Crawford Hall - Room 9
Case Western Reserve University
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.
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 http://policy.case.edu.