Last one out, turn off the lights

The federal government is approaching a shutdown, continuing a pattern of brinkmanship as every new deadline approaches – rather than disciplined and regularized budget process observance.  Even should we make it past this turn of the fiscal year without a shutdown (unlikely) the symbolic raising of the debt limit deadline is just around the corner.  We are currently operating in the “sequester” which I discussed in a previous semester.  As you observe events unfolding in these unusual budgetary times, make an effort to get past ideological shortcuts and take an analytical perspective based on your learning in the MPA program.

Observing the executive and legislative branches’ behavior and gamesmanship in recent years makes the detailed budget processes covered in the textbook appear meaningless.  Nevertheless, the players in this drama (and it is depressingly dramatic; boring routine in fiscal matters would be a refreshing relief, and would be better received by the markets) are quite aware of the institutional rules which they can manipulate to force confrontation; those rules are grounded in budgetary and fiscal legislation.

Quartz.com (an Atlantic Monthly property, also publishes Government Executive) addresses “Who will notice a US government shutdown” – the metaphor of ice freezing through the economy over time as a shutdown persists is particularly apt.  The New York Times bemoans the fact that the shutdown 17 years ago appears to have left little impression on the Congress of today – “Last shutdown a lesson lost on Capitol Hill”  The Wall Street Journal summarizes recent events leading up to the shutdown.

The intergovernmental impact of a shutdown is substantial.  Governors respectfully request that Congressional leadership not slam on the brakes, in a letter at the National Governors Association; note the emphasis on the value of predictability.   The nations’ mayors oppose a shutdown as well.  The National Conference of State Legislatures provides a location for updates on the impact of the shutdown.

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Detroit – the decision

Largest municipal bankruptcy yet announced today:

http://nyti.ms/1bM3VGF

NYTimes: Detroit Goes Bankrupt, the Largest City to Do So in U.S.

"The decision by the city, the cradle of America’s automobile industry and once the nation’s fourth-most populous, also marks the largest municipal bankruptcy filing in American history in terms of debt."

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Detroit – the decision

Largest municipal bankruptcy yet announced today:

http://nyti.ms/1bM3VGF

NYTimes: Detroit Goes Bankrupt, the Largest City to Do So in U.S.

“The decision by the city, the cradle of America’s automobile industry and once the nation’s fourth-most populous, also marks the largest municipal bankruptcy filing in American history in terms of debt.”

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In trouble for not spending

An intriguing intergovernmental problem: when the Feds come down on you for NOT spending their money…

http://nyti.ms/11MlKj3

NYTimes: California Failed to Spend Millions on Water Projects, E.P.A. Says

The state failed to spend $455 million of federal money meant to improve water infrastructure in the state, the Environmental Protection Agency said Friday.

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In honor of Tax Day…clustering of high-likelihood audit cases

Note how the IRS tries to focus limited audit resources on returns with characteristics likely to predict cheating using mathematical modeling. I like the quote about its success from the IRS publication – elegant bureaucratic understatement.

AP Exclusive: Likely tax cheats flock South, West

http://news.yahoo.com/ap-exclusive-likely-tax-cheats-flock-south-west-115201378.html

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Be careful! Online publishing has its own scams.

This trend is of great concern and soon to be newly-minted PhDs need to be aware of it. Do not submit a book proposal to a press without thoroughly checking it out, and talking to your advisor. Ditto for journals.

http://nyti.ms/16GyiKY

NYTimes: Scientific Articles Accepted (Personal Checks, Too)

A parallel world of pseudo-academia, with prestigiously titled conferences and journals that will print seemingly anything for a fee, has the scientific community alarmed.

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Legislative update on Senate budget proposal from Tax Policy Center

Comments from the Tax Policy Center (nonpartisan) on Senate budget proposal, centering on tax expenditures that benefit the upper end of the income distribution – you will see a name you know from our class discussion of tax expenditures:

TaxVox blog – Tax Policy Center  (Joint project of Urban Institute and Brookings Institution) – “Why the tax cuts in the Senate budget don’t add up

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