An act of Congress that actually funds programs within limits established by authorization bills. Usually cover one year.
56. Authorization bill
An act of Congress that establishes, continues or changes a discretionary government program or an entitlement. It specifies program goals and maximum expenditures for discretionary programs.
A policy document allocating burdens (taxes) and benefits (expenditures)
58. Budget resolution
A resolution binding Congress to a total expenditure level, supposedly the bottom line of all federal spending for all programs.
59. Congressional Budget and Impoundment Control Act of 1974
An act designed to reform the congressional budgetary process. Its supporters hoped that it would also make Congress less dependent on the president’s budget and better able to set and meet its own budgetary goals.
60. Congressional Budget Office (CBO)
A counterweight to the president’s office of management and budget (OMB). The CBO advises Congress on the probable consequences of budget decisions and forecasts revenues.
61. Continuing resolutions
When Congress cannot reach agreement and pass appropriations bills, these resolutions allow agencies to spend at the level of the previous year.
An excess of federal expenditures over federal revenues.
Policies for which expenditures are uncontrollable because Congress has in effect obligated itself to pay X level of benefits to Y number of recipients. Each year, Congress’ bill is a straightforward function of the X level of benefits times the Y number of beneficiaries. Social Security benefits are an example.
Federal spending of revenues. Major areas of such spending are social services and the military.
65. Federal debt
All the money borrowed by the federal government over the years and still outstanding. Today the federal debt is more than $8 trillion.
66. House Ways and Means Committee
The House of Representatives committee that, along with the Senate Finance Committee, writes the tax codes, subject to the approval of Congress as a whole.
67. Income Tax
Shares of individual wages and corporate revenues collected by the government. The first income tax was declared unconstitutional by the Supreme Court in 1895 but the 16th Amendment explicitly authorized Congress to levy a tax on income.
The belief that the best predictor of this year’s budget is last year’s budget, plus a little bit more (an increment).
A public assistance program designed to provide health care for poor Americans. Medicaid is funded by both the states and the national government.
A program added to the Social Security system in 1965 that provides hospitalization insurance for the elderly and permits older Americans to purchase inexpensive coverage for doctor fees and other expenses.
A congressional process through which program authorizations are revised to achieve required saving. It usually also includes tax or other revenue adjustments.
The financial resources of the federal government. The individual income tax and social Security tax are two major sources of revenue.
73. Senate Finance Committee
The Senate committee that, along with the House Ways and Means Committee, writes the tax codes, subject to the approval of Congress as a whole.
74. Sixteenth Amendment
The constitutional amendment adopted in 1913 that explicitly permitted Congress to levy an income tax.
75. Social Security Act
A 1935 law passed during the Great Depression that was intended to provide a minimal level of sustenance to older Americans and thus save them from poverty.
76. Tax expenditures
Defined by the 1974 Budget Act as “revenue losses attributable to provisions of the federal tax laws which allow a special exemption, exclusion or deduction.” Tax expenditures represent the difference between what the government actually collects in taxes and what it would have collected without special exemptions.
77. Uncontrollable Expenditures
Expenditures that are determined not by a fixed amount of money appropriated by Congress but by how many eligible beneficiaries there are for some particular program or by previous obligations of the government. Three fourths of the federal budget is uncontrollable. Congress can change uncontrollable expenditures only by changing a law or existing benefit levels.