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Federal Budget Doldrums: The Vacuum in Presidential Leadership

Louis Fisher
Public Administration Review
Vol. 50, No. 6 (Nov. - Dec., 1990), pp. 693-700
Published by: Wiley on behalf of the American Society for Public Administration
DOI: 10.2307/976984
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/976984
Page Count: 8
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Abstract

Unlike the Budget and Accounting Act of 1921, which required the President to play a central role in the budget process, recent reforms in the Budget Act of 1974 and the Gramm-Rudman-Hollings Acts of 1985 and 1987 take the spotlight off the President's personal role. Instead, responsibility for budget preparation and control of budget aggregates is now diffused and confused, with the public unable to hold either Congress or the President responsible. This article argues that the basic principle of the 1921 statute was correct: the political system of the United States requires the President to take personal and visible responsibility for submitting a national budget. The process since 1974 has encouraged the phenomenal budget deficits of the past decade and discourages efforts to deal with them. As part of an effort to restore presidential responsibility, Congress should repeal the Gramm-Rudman-Hollings Act and also eliminate the adoption of budget resolutions, shifting the full burden of budget preparation to the President.

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