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Author: Penner, Rudolph G.

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The Changing Nature of the Long-Run Budget Problem (Article)
Rudolph G. Penner

Since the Great Recession, the budget deficit has fallen precipitously, but a serious long-run problem still exists as a burgeoning elderly population will push Social Security and health costs upward. Health costs do not seem as large a threat as in earlier projections because of a recent slowdown. However, the budget is now much more vulnerable to interest rate increases as the Great Recession and stimulus program doubled the debt-GDP ratio. Program reforms are desperately needed, but the bipartisan cooperation necessary for reform seems increasingly unlikely.

The National Association of Business Economists awarded this piece the Abramson Scroll "in recognition of an outstanding feature article published in Business Economics."

Published: 11/24/15
Availability:   PDF


Biennial Budgeting (Testimony)
Rudolph G. Penner

In this testimony before the US House of Representatives Committee on the Budget, Institute fellow Rudy Penner discussed the problems that could arise from biennial budgeting including needing to rely more heavily on forecasts which may contain errors, fewer opportunities for oversight, and fewer opportunities to work through the complexities of the budget.

Published: 11/18/15
Availability:   PDF


Does Debt Matter?  (Commentary)
Rudolph G. Penner

It is politically implausible to solve entirely America's budget problem on the spending side, Rudolph Penner states in "The International Economy" journal (spring 2013). Taxes will have to increase as well.

Published: 06/26/13
Availability: HTML


The Hard Road to Fiscal Responsibility (Article)
John L. PalmerRudolph G. Penner

The paper describes the current U. S. fiscal problems showing that without significant changes in revenue and spending policies, the country is headed for a sovereign debt crisis similar to that afflicting countries in Southern Europe. Various options for stabilizing the debt-GDP ratio are analyzed including the proposals of the President's National Commission on Fiscal Responsibility and Reform and the Bipartisan Policy Center's Deficit Reduction Task Force. The budgets passed by the House of Representatives and the president's response are also considered. The paper goes on to describe the Budget Control Act passed after the debt limit debate of 2011.

Published: 10/17/12
Availability: HTML | PDF


Controlling the Deficit: The Debate Continues (Research Report)
John L. PalmerRudolph G. Penner

The report discusses the important budget events of 2011. It begins with the House Republican budget and the president's response. The very different approaches to health and discretionary spending and tax policy are analyzed in detail. The policy debate continued into the confused debt limit negotiations of July. The Budget Control Act finally emerged. It capped discretionary spending and created a "super committee" that was to propose additional deficit reductions. The committee failed miserably. An automatic across-the-board spending cut is supposed to result from that failure. The report describes its effects on defense and nondefense spending.

Published: 01/20/12
Availability:   PDF


Congress Begs a Crisis to Fix the Debt (Commentary)
Rudolph G. Penner

In a contribution to the CNNMoney.com, Rudolph Penner discusses the super committee's failure to fix the deficit.

Published: 11/21/11
Availability: HTML


Changing the Budget Process (Testimony)
Rudolph G. Penner

Rudolph Penner's testimony before the House Committee on the Budget on proposals for changing the budget process.

Published: 09/21/11
Availability: HTML | PDF


The Paul Ryan Budget Proposal (Video / Commentary)
Rudolph G. PennerDonald MarronJohn Holahan

House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan on April 5, 2011 released a far reaching budget proposal to cut $6 trillion within 10 years. The plan would reform the tax code, cut tax rates, subject Medicare to a stringent budget, and turn Medicaid into state block grants. In this video, Urban Institute policy experts Rudy G. Penner, Donald Marron, and John Holahan size up the proposal and the budget crisis.

Published: 04/14/11
Availability: HTML


Committees Tackle the Deficit (Policy Briefs)
John L. PalmerRudolph G. Penner

The United States faces a dire budget problem, largely the result of the aging of the population and soaring health costs. The president's National Commission on Fiscal Responsibility and Reform and the Bipartisan Policy Center's Debt Reduction Task Force both agree that Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid reforms are necessary, although health costs are the far greater problem. They also recommend restructuring the personal and corporate tax systems. These commissions' efforts show that reasonable policy packages can get bipartisan support even in an intensely partisan era.

Published: 02/15/11
Availability: HTML | PDF


Will It Take a Crisis to Fix Fiscal Policy? (Research Report)
Rudolph G. Penner

Unless current policies are reformed, the national debt will continue to grow relative to GDP until a sovereign debt crisis, like those in Ireland and Greece, is inevitable. Although the nation is becoming more concerned about spiraling debt and a presidential fiscal commission and other groups have suggested reforms, the president and congressional leaders have been unwilling to recommend specific policy reforms. Consequently, it is becoming more and more likely that policymakers will not undertake necessary reforms until a financial crisis forces their hand. (This paper will appear in the April 2011 issue of Business Economics.)

Published: 02/04/11
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