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date: 15 December 2019

Abstract and Keywords

This article first outlines the competing definitions, aims, and perspectives on budgeting and budgets that have informed practice, scholarship, and theory building during the twentieth century. Next, it provides a discussion of the primary tenets, historical antecedents, and budget reforms offered over the past decades, showing how little is really ‘new’ under the sun. It also summarizes three major and distressing trends that broach politics and technical-rationality in the twenty-first century: tax expenditures, unfunded mandates, and entitlement program growth. It then illustrates their linkage to traditional approaches and their insufficiency in dealing with the reality of budgetary politics in the United States. Additionally, it argues that the fiscal profligacy that these trends reflect is the result of a dominance of political-philosophical forces over technical forces. Four major avenues of future research are finally given.

Keywords: budgeting, financial management, budget reforms, tax expenditures, unfunded mandates, entitlement program, budgetary politics, United States

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