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Budgeting: Politics and Power

Second Edition

Carol W. Lewis and W. Bartley Hildreth

Publication Date - December 2012

ISBN: 9780199859214

368 pages
6-1/8 x 9-1/4 inches

In Stock

The only book that emphasizes the political nature of public budgeting


A skillful balance of application and theory, Budgeting: Politics and Power, Second Edition, is a comprehensive yet highly accessible introduction to the politics of budgeting. Unlike other texts on the subject--which typically focus only on budgeting issues at the federal level--this book emphasizes budgeting at the state and local levels in order to translate budgetary politics in a way that is more relevant to the vast majority of students. Drawing on a wide range of academic disciplines, the book also incorporates numerous pedagogical features, including case studies, in-class exercises, discussion and review questions; many charts, tables, photos, and cartoons; a glossary of budgeting terms; and an appendix of key federal budgeting points. A Companion Website at www.oup.com/us/lewis offers links to videos, chronologies, other online resources, and more.

New to this Edition

  • Frames markets alongside politics and democracy as key budget factors
  • Tracks the budgetary impacts of the recent recession and 2010 electoral shifts
  • Traces recent shifts in public opinion, ideology, and partisanship
  • Updates statistics and examples throughout the book, including the findings of the 2010 census and the most recent spending and revenue patterns
  • Updates issues, including one state's shutdown and a showdown with organized labor in another state
  • Includes five new case studies (for chapters 2, 3, 5, 6, 7)
  • Expands the glossary (Appendix B)
  • Includes almost 30 new or updated figures and about 9 new or updated tables

About the Author(s)

Carol W. Lewis is Professor Emerita of Political Science at the University of Connecticut.

W. Bartley Hildreth is Professor of Public Management and Policy in the Andrew Young School of Policy Studies at Georgia State University in Atlanta.

Previous Publication Date(s)

December 2012
February 2010


"The best current book on politics and the budgetary process."--Scott A. Frisch, California State University, Channel Islands

"Easy to read and comprehend."--Marcus D. Mauldin, The University of Tennessee at Chattanooga

Table of Contents

    Each chapter ends with Web Site Resources and Review Questions.
    Why a New Edition?
    A Different Take on the Subject
    Organization and Learning Style
    About the Authors
    Introduction to Budgeting in a Democracy
    Theoretically Speaking
    Web Site Resources
    1. Follow the Money
    What Is the Public Sector?
    Why Do We Need to Make Political Choices?
    Not a Brawl
    Political Process
    Do the Choices Matter?
    Limits to Budgeting
    How Does Democracy Affect Budgeting?
    Stewardship and Efficiency
    What Is a Good Budget?
    Case: A Lesson in Political Muscle
    2. We the People: Power and Participation
    Do We Vote Our Budget Choices?
    Voting Bundles, Not Budgets
    Voting Political Parties
    Voting Core Political Beliefs
    What Does Governing Mean?
    Can Citizens Speak to Political Leaders?
    Transparency and Meaningful Participation
    Voting Directly on Budget Choices
    Are Citizens Self-Interested Rational Actors?
    Emotional Language of Budgetary Politics
    How Political Ideology Affects Budgeting
    Is Lobbying Legitimate in Budgetary Politics?
    How and Why We Lobby
    Issue Networks
    Does Public Opinion Influence Budgetary Politics?
    Do Leaders Listen?
    Interpreting Public Opinion
    Case: Where the Rubber Hits the Road
    3. Fairness and Trust in Budgetary Politics
    What's Fair?
    Are Taxes Fair?
    The Public's Perspective
    Notions of Tax Fairness
    Tax Burden
    Taxes and Income Inequality
    Fiscal Federalism and Tax Fairness
    Is Spending Fair?
    The Politics of Redistribution
    Generational Politics
    Spending across the States
    Political and Budgetary IOUs
    Are Citizens Satisfied with Performance?
    Does Citizen Trust or Distrust Matter?
    Case: What's the Point?
    4. Process Matters
    How is the Budget "Game" Played?
    How Did We Get Here?
    What Is Executive Budgeting?
    How Does Executive Budgeting Work?
    Executive Formulation and Submission
    Bouncing Off the Base
    Budget Requests
    Significance of Stage One
    Legislative Review and Appropriation
    Review of the Executive Budget Request
    Limits on Legislative Powers
    Line-Item Appropriations and Veto Power
    Budget Blackout
    Implementation and Audit
    Allotments and Rescissions
    Supplemental Appropriations
    After the Books Are Closed
    Summary of the Executive Budget Process
    Why Take a Political Perspective?
    How Does the Federal Entitlement Process Work?
    The Art of the Budget Process
    Case: A Package Deal
    5. Putting the Puzzle Together
    What Rules Guide Putting the Budget Pieces Together?
    Fiscal Rules for the Federal Government
    Fiscal Rules for State and Local Governments
    Fiscal Rules Are Norms
    What Is a Balanced Budget?
    Revision of the Budget during the Year
    The "Is" of a Balanced Budget
    What Happens When There Is No Budget or the Budget Is Not in Balance?
    Financing the Federal Government's Annual Deficit by Issuing Debt
    State and Local Government Debt
    Budget Cutbacks
    Is the Budget Sustainable Over Time?
    Rainy-Day Budgeting
    Public Sector Employee Benefits
    Budget Sustainability
    Case: When Persuasion is Broke
    6. Spending Public Resources
    How Much Are We Spending?
    Measuring Spending
    Internal Dynamics: Percent Change and Rate of Growth
    External Developments
    A Slice of the Pie
    Cost Structure Makes a Difference
    Workforce and Payroll
    Employee Benefits and Unpaid Bills
    Why Is Some Federal Spending Kept Secret?
    What Does Counterterrorism Cost?
    What Are We Getting for the Money?
    Why Do Budgets Grow?
    Case: Do-It-Yourself Government
    7. A Taxing Subject: Raising Public Resources
    Why Do We Pay for Public Services?
    Willingness to Pay
    Revenue Systems Serve Different Functions
    Revenue and Civic Engagement
    Strategies for Public Support
    Who Makes Revenue Policy?
    Political Pressure on Technical Experts
    Revenue Power outside the Beltway
    Political Pressure on Decision Makers
    What Types of Revenue Does the Public Sector Use?
    The Property Tax
    The Income Tax
    The Sales and Use Tax
    Revenue Diversity
    How Do Taxes Work?
    The Sticky Problems of Tax Administration
    Rules that Limit Tax Uses and Tax Increases
    Nominal versus Effective Tax Rate
    What Are the Five Principles of Taxation and How Are They Applied?
    Applying Tax Principle #1: How Does Tax Policy Affect Economic Growth?
    Applying Tax Principle #2: What is Efficient Taxation?
    Applying Tax Principle #3: How Can Tax Policy Be Economical?
    Forecasting Revenue
    Price of Government
    Tax Elasticity
    Revenue Yield over Time
    Other Concerns
    Applying Tax Principle 4: How Does Transparency Make Taxation Responsive?
    Applying Tax Principle #5: What Is a Fair Tax?
    Benefits-Received Principle
    Ability-to-Pay Principle
    Tax Incidence
    Taxes in the Global Economy
    Can Governments Raise Revenue without Having Taxes?
    Case: A License to Prey?
    8. Politics and Capital Budgeting
    What Is Capital Budgeting and Why Is It Important?
    Infrastructure as Durable Goods and Capital Assets
    Doing Public Mega-Projects
    Should Governments Plan and If So, How?
    Identifying Capital Projects
    Capital Programs and Budgets
    Project Costs and Benefits
    If Not Pay Cash, Then Why and When Borrow Money?
    Debt Is Not Always Bad
    Bond Ratings and Credit Quality
    Debt Rules
    State and Local Government Securities
    Is There Such a Thing as Free Money?
    State and Local Officials Look to the Federal Government
    Local Officials Look to the States
    Case: Budget Busters!
    9. How to Read a Local Budget
    A Budget's Four Main Parts
    Budget Message
    Budget Summary
    Detailed Schedules
    Supporting Documentation
    Eight Focal Points
    1. Who/What?
    2. Fiscal Year?
    3. Operating or Capital Budget?
    4. Legal Status of the Document?
    5. Is the Budget Balanced?
    6. What Fund Applies?
    7. What Are the Budget Drivers?
    8. Who/What Gets the Spotlight?
    Proceed with Caution!
    Go Beyond the Budget
    Questions to Ask When Reading a Budget
    Would You Vote for This Budget?
    10. The Bottom Line
    Why Does Budgeting Change and Yet So Much Stays the Same?
    Sources of Change
    Putting on the Squeeze
    Budgetary and Political Time Bombs
    How Do Today's Budget Decisions Affect Tomorrow's Democracy?
    Long-Term Budget Commitments Undermine Democracy? Agree
    Long-Term Budget Commitments Undermine Democracy? Disagree
    How Are We Doing?
    Transparency and Complexity
    Financing Public Higher Education
    Following the Money through a Maze
    Accountability, Stewardship, and the Artful Dodge
    Budget Gimmicks
    Dodging Tough Choices
    Efficiency, Effectiveness, and Performance
    Responsiveness and the Role and Size of Government
    Where Are We Headed?
    Reforming the Federal Appropriations Process
    Entitlement Reform
    Closure Commissions
    Reforming Earmarks
    Other Reforms
    What Can We Do about It?
    Trust and the Political Deficit
    Participation and a Challenge to Take Two Steps
    Case: The Gag Rule
    The Big Picture: Integrating Questions
    Appendix A. The Federal Budget Process
    Appendix B. Glossary of Terms in Budgetary Politics

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