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Putting Trust in the US Budget
Federal Trust Funds and the Politics of Commitment

$118.00 (C)

Part of Theories of Institutional Design

  • Date Published: August 2000
  • availability: Available
  • format: Hardback
  • isbn: 9780521771740

$ 118.00 (C)

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About the Authors
  • In the United States many important programs, such as Social Security and Medicare, are paid from trust funds. At a time when major social insurance funds are facing insolvency, this timely book provides the first comprehensive study of this significant yet little-studied feature of the American welfare state. Trust funds are at the heart of US budgeting and public social provision, and also raise a fundamental question of democratic politics: can current officeholders bind their successors? Through detailed case studies Patashnik shows how long term government commitments are effectively designed.

    • Was the first comprehensive study of a central feature of the American welfare state
    • Written accessibly, will be of interest to policy makers as well as students of political economy, public policy and American politics
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    Reviews & endorsements

    "[Patashnik] carefully investigates empirical questions regarding the causes and consequences of trust funds, yet he also thoughtfully reflects on the normative issues surrounding such statutory commitments...Patashnik writes clearly and seriously." Journal of Public Administration Research and Theory

    "[A] refreshingly unpretentious account of trust funds in American government....One can only admire the author's ability to explain so much, so lucidly. It reinforces his message that, in addition to knowing public finance theory, it also helps to understand the political origins and development of the financing institutions under discussion." Journal of Economic Literature

    "This is a significant contribution to the literature on American policy-making and public budgeting. Patashnik artfully weaves together political science, public finance, and knowledge of government programs in telling us what to expect from the government's trust funds. The use of theory is deft and wide-ranging yet unpretentious. The case studies of Social Security, Medicare and other trust funds are sophisticated and illuminating. I learned a great deal from this book." Martha Derthick, University of Virginia

    "This is a terrific book. For Patashnik, the world of trust funds is a window into the complex and fascinating politics of trust and commitment. He shows how policy-makers wrestle with the challenging task of balancing the need to keep promises and the need to keep their options open. Imaginative, theoretically-informed and thoroughly-researched, Putting Trust in the U.S. Budget is enormously instructive for students of public policy and American politics." Paul Pierson, Harvard University

    "...Patashnik has made an important contribution to the analysis of trust funds. This book has several strenghts...It gives an insightful review of the literature on what might be termes the "economics of commitment," it provides a systematic empirical analysis of the determinants of trust fund taxes and general taxes, and it gives detailed case studies of several trust funds." Public Budgeting and Finance

    "This theoretically sophisticated, meticulously researched and elegantly written book makes a major contribution both to the complexities of US budgeting and the comparative formation of public policy. Patashnik has written an important book about an important subject." Desmond King, St John's College, Oxford, for Journal of Political Studies

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    Product details

    • Date Published: August 2000
    • format: Hardback
    • isbn: 9780521771740
    • length: 246 pages
    • dimensions: 229 x 152 x 17 mm
    • weight: 0.53kg
    • contains: 17 tables
    • availability: Available
  • Table of Contents

    1. Introduction: trust funds and the politics of commitment
    2. Political transaction costs, feedback effects, and policy credibility
    3. Trust fund taxes vs general fund taxes
    4. Social security
    5. Medicare
    6. Highways
    7. Airports
    8. Superfund
    9. Barriers to trust fund adoption: the failed cases of energy security and lead abatement
    10. Conclusions: The structure and normative challenge of promise-keeping.

  • Author

    Eric M. Patashnik, University of California, Los Angeles

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