Working Paper on Making Budget Enforcement More Effective

The need for sound enforcement of spending and revenue is inherent in the practice of budgeting. A budget lacking enforcement is not a budget at all, and this dilutes Congress’s constitutional “power of the purse.” The Congressional Budget Act of 1974 has several enforcement provisions, and Congress has adopted additional rules and statutes over the years to enforce budgetary goals. Most of these have failed, however, due to poor design or because they can easily be waived or circumvented. The result has been a cluster of ineffective budgetary rules that only make the budget process more complicated. The necessity of developing better budget rules is clearly evident. Enforcement regimes can be strengthened by streamlining rules, plugging loopholes, and changing defaults and incentives. A key element in rewriting the Congressional Budget Act, therefore, is to develop successful and effective means of enforcing congressional budgets.

Read the full paper here.