Discussion Introduction/Overview

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A close examination of the Article II of the Constitution (Executive Branch) suggests that the founding fathers, leery of tyrannical monarchs, deliberately made vague the powers and responsibility of the president. Yet the institution of the presidency has grown, over time. This expansion of presidential power and the growth of the federal bureaucracies, through executive interpretation of Article II of the Constitution, is a dominant feature of the modern presidency.

The growth of modern presidential power coincides with the growth of the federal budget. Every year the Office of Management and Budget provides a detailed summary of the President’s proposed budget. You can review the federal budget.

The federal budget spends close to four trillion dollars a year. The federal budget is split between mandatory (what the federal government has to spend due to congressional legislation) and discretionary spending (what the federal government spends as a result of congressional allotment). Roughly speaking, mandatory spending accounts for two-thirds of the federal budget and discretionary spending accounts for one-third of the federal budget.

Directions: If you were an economic adviser to the president of the United States how would you adjust the federal budget to address your concerns regarding federal, domestic spending?

  • Select two federal departments, administrations, or agencies detailed in the President’s proposed budget
  • Within the Table of Contents of the President’s proposed budget you will see a list of all the federal departments, administrations, and agencies.
  • In light of growing federal deficits, make specific arguments for deficit spending or cuts within each selected department, administration, or agency.
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