Panel Paper: Divided Government's Impact on US Budget Deficits: Determinant or Distraction?

Friday, April 7, 2017 : 4:40 PM
Founders Hall Room 470 (George Mason University Schar School of Policy)

*Names in bold indicate Presenter

Kim A. Devoto, George Mason University
With the exception of the late 1990’s, the US has consistently experienced budget deficits for several decades.  One of the most cited reasons for budget deficits is the inability of Congress to enact annual budgets on a timely basis without federal spending exceeding revenue.  Because the executive and legislative branches’ political parties frequently differ, it is common for policy makers, academics, and the public to blame budget deficits on divided government.  This paper studies the most recent and prevalent theories, data, models, and results to assess whether divided government is convincingly associated with budget deficits.  The author finds that budget deficits are more associated with times when the Congressional chambers have different political parties (“divided Congress”) than times when the executive and legislative branches differ (“divided government.”)