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95 Geo. L.J. 1555 (2006-2007)
Standard Errors: How Budget Rules Distort Lawmaking

handle is hein.journals/glj95 and id is 1567 raw text is: Standard Errors: How Budget Rules Distort
Lawmaking
TIM WESTMORELAND*
The mark of a civilized human is the capacity to read a column of numbers and weep.
-attributed to Bertrand Russell1
TABLE OF CONTENTS
INTRODUCTION    ..........................................                   1556
I.  A BRIEF HISTORY OF CONGRESSIONAL BUDGETING         .............        1559
II.  THE BASICS OF THE CURRENT BUDGET PROCESS ...............               1564
A.  TWO-MAYBE THREE-KINDS OF MONEY           .................          1564
B.  BASELINES       ..............................................     1569
C.  SCOREKEEPING    ...................................                1573
D.  LIM ITS  .........................................                  1575
III.  INVISIBLE EFFECTS OF THE BUDGET PROCESS ..................             1580
A.  TYPE OF MONEY EFFECTS: DISCRETIONARY SPENDING BREAKS
PROMISES ........    .......................................       1583
B.  TYPE OF MONEY EFFECTS: TAX SPENDING IS OPAQUE ..........         1585
C.  TYPE OF MONEY EFFECTS: TAX SPENDING IS OF UNEVEN
BENEFIT  ........................................                  1587
D.  TIMING EFFECTS: THE BUDGET PROCESS DISCOURAGES LONG-TERM
INVESTMENTS   ....................................                 1590
* Visiting Professor of Law, Georgetown University Law Center; Senior Scholar, O'Neill Institute
on Health Law, Georgetown University Law Center; Research Professor of Public Policy, Georgetown
University Public Policy Institute; J.D., Yale Law School; B.A., Duke University. © 2007, Tim
Westmoreland. This work was supported (in part) by a Robert Wood Johnson Foundation Investigator
Award in Health Policy Research, for which I am grateful. The views expressed herein imply no
endorsement by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation. I am also grateful to my colleagues at
Georgetown who gave me very helpful comments on early drafts of this paper, especially Gregg
Bloche, Stephen Cohen, Judy Feder, Chai Feldblum, Larry Gostin, Lisa Heinzerling, Mike Seidman,
and Kathy Zeiler. I am also extremely thankful to Robert Dove, Sherry Glied, Mike Hash, Nan Hunter,
Jeanne Lambrew, David Mechanic, Lynn Rogut, Andy Schneider, Jane Sisk, and the all-knowing and
indefatigable Richard Kogan for their advice, counsel, and correction. Finally, my deep gratitude to
Nick Olcott for his contributions throughout.
1. DAVID G. MYERS, THE AMERICAN PARADOX: SPIRITUAL HUNGER IN AN AGE OF PLENTY 6 (2000),
available at http://www.davidmyers.org/Brix?pagelD=71.
1555

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