Summary of 15 Ways to Rethink the Federal Budget

The Hamilton Project,

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15 Ways to Rethink the Federal Budget summary
Cutting the federal budget deficit is possible, but that could require changing how government operates.


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The debate over the US federal budget is polarized. Republicans and Democrats want to cut the deficit and national debt – but agree on little else. The Hamilton Project brought experts together to examine the root causes of the deficit. Drawing on existing research and recommendations, they offer ideas based more on facts than on ideology. Their suggestions highlight a range of issues, including misplaced incentives and moral hazards that encourage excessive expenditure and imprudent behavior. The proposals are not easy reading – the terminology is often technical, and some of the ideas are more controversial than they might seem at first blush – yet the insights are fresh. getAbstract recommends this compilation to policy makers, economists, and students of finance and economic development.

In this summary, you will learn

  • What 15 proposals the Hamilton Project offers for addressing the US budget deficit,
  • What main factors contribute to the deficit,
  • How to control the deficit in the short term and
  • How to reduce the deficit in the long term.


The Nation’s Future
Those debating the US federal budget deficit agree that the current level of debt is unsustainable, but they concur on little else, since they are disputing a vision not just of fiscal policy but of the nation’s future. The US confronts high unemployment, falling real...
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About the Authors

Michael Greenstone and Adam Looney are senior fellows at the Brookings Institute’s Hamilton Project, a nonprofit public policy organization, where Karen Li is a policy coordinator and Max Harris and Jeremy Patashnik are research assistants.

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