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EconDebates Online

EconDebates Online keeps you informed on today's most crucial economics policy debates. Each EconDebate, created by John Kane (SUNY-Oswego), provides a primer on the issues and links to background information and current, in-depth commentaries from experts around the world. Review the brief introductions and, for EconDebates of interest, select the full debate.

Fiscal Policy



Is a budget deficit harmful to the economy?

Full Debate 

In the late 1990s, discussion of U.S. fiscal policy often focused on how the budget surplus should be used. The recession of 2001 (and the subsequent "jobless recovery"), the Bush Administration's tax cuts, and rising military and homeland security expenditures have converted the the budget surplus into a large and growing federal budget deficit. The economic effects of this deficit have been the focus of a substantial amount of public policy debate.

How should the U.S. budget surplus be used?

Full Debate 

After three decades of federal budget deficits, a budget surplus was realized in 1998. Economic forecasts suggest that such a federal budget surplus is likely to continue for the next several years (in the absence of a major recession or substantial revisions in fiscal policy). In the past, much of the discussion of the federal budget has dealt with the possibly adverse consequences of a federal deficit. Over the past couple of years, the discussion has gradually shifted to examine what, if anything, should be done with the federal budget surplus.

How should we reform the current tax system?

Full Debate 

While virtually everyone agrees the the current tax system is excessively complex, there is no tax simplification plan that is universally accepted. The major problem is that most proposed changes in the tax structure will benefit some taxpayers and harm others.

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