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Who's Responsible For the U.S. Budget?

October 18, 1992

The reason that the United States is now the world's largest debtor nation is because we don't employ zero-based budgeting, in which every dollar spent must be justified every fiscal year.

If Congress, as collector and distributor of the nation's financial resources, accepted the responsibility of justifying where, how and how much of the taxpayer's money is spent each year, its members would be forced to face the hard questions of leadership that we ostensively elect and pay them to face.

With baseline budgeting, politicians in both parties can continue squandering the nation's financial resources, mortgaging the nation's future and threatening global economic stability, all the while throwing their hands up and claiming that they have no control over "mandatory" spending.

The United States is bankrupt by any private sector definition. The last thing we need is Brookings Institution economists contributing to the mendacity that is part and parcel of the evasion of political responsibility.

Alice Rivlin is correct in saying that the President's hands are soiled with the stains of special interests. However, more than any other federal institutions, "Congress, with all its faults," (along with all politicians), does "deserve this bum rap."

JOHN HOOVER

Fullerton

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