Government spending has increased dramatically in the United States
since World War II despite the many rules intended to rein in the
insatiable appetite for tax revenue most politicians seem to share.
Drawing on examples from the federal and state governments, "Rules
and Restraint" explains in lucid, nontechnical prose why these
budget rules tend to fail, and proposes original alternatives for
imposing much-needed fiscal discipline on our legislators. One
reason budget rules are ineffective, David M. Primo shows, is that
politicians often create and preserve loopholes to protect programs
that benefit their constituents. Another reason is that legislators
must enforce their own provisions, an arrangement that is seriously
compromised by their unwillingness to abide by rules that demand
short-term sacrifices for the sake of long-term gain. Convinced
that budget rules enacted through such a flawed legislative process
are unlikely to work, Primo ultimately calls for a careful debate
over the advantages and drawbacks of a constitutional convention
initiated by the states - a radical step that would bypass Congress
to create a path toward change.
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