Party Rhetoric in Federal Budget Communications

Party Rhetoric in Federal Budget Communications

Tammy E. Trimble (Virginia Tech, USA)
Copyright: © 2014 |Pages: 19
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-4666-5003-9.ch002
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This chapter explores differences in federal budget communication associated with the development and passage of the Federal Budget Resolution for Fiscal Years 1999, 2000, and 2001. While theory suggests that party-based differences within budget communication exist, empirical studies have not yet explored the full extent of these differences. The goal of this research is to illustrate the significant party-based differences in the goals and values communicated by the actors within the federal budget process. These findings inform our understanding of how actors within this key governing process communicate. This understanding will better equip public administrators to engage others in dialogue and debate that facilitates agreement and understanding.
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Budgeting serves as a mechanism for setting goals and objectives, measuring process toward objectives, for identifying weaknesses or inadequacies in organizations, and for controlling and integrating diverse activities carried out by large bureaucracies, both public and private (Lee, Johnson, & Joyce, 2004). Budgeting is a means for examining how resources have been used previously, analyzing what has been accomplished and at what cost, and for charting a course for the future through allocations. Budget process communication is a means of creating meaning among individuals or actors of differing perspectives and agendas.

Federal budget decisions represent the policies and managerial goals and objectives valued by the constituency as reflected by the electorate and bureaucracy. Tangible examples can be seen in recent political decisions. For example, using the budget tool of reconciliation, President Barack Obama and the Democratic majority in Congress passed sweeping health care reform. President George W. Bush and the Republican majority in Congress passed multiple tax cuts for the middle class. Also, due in large part to campaign promises made during the 2000 presidential campaign and the 2002 mid-term election, Congress, with Bush’s support, passed a drug coverage plan for senior citizens, arguably at the expense of other proposed programs. In each case, the policies demonstrated the values of the majority and demonstrated the goals and values deemed most important at that point in time, be it health care, tax cuts, or reductions in government services.

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