DollarGovernment budgets are an expression of policy–the measure of how the legislative and executive branches carry out what they perceive as the public will.  The federal budget is a measure of expenditures based on revenues as well as a plan for effectively carrying out national objectives.  Some expenditures are considered discretionary or what the legislative and executive branches may add to or subtract from in appropriations.  Others are mandatory, such as legislated entitlement programs.  The annual federal budget covers the federal fiscal year, which begins on October 1 and ends on September 30.

Under Art. I, § 9, cl. 2 of the Constitution, the power of the purse is delegated to Congress.  Under the Budget and Accounting Act of 1921, codified in Title 31 of the United States Code, the federal process begins with the President submitting his budget proposal for the next fiscal year sometime between the first Monday in January and the first Monday in February.  The Congressional Budget and Impoundment Control Act of 1974, P.L. 93-344, 2 U.S.C. §601 et seq., as amended, established the Congressional Budget Office, which provides nonpartisan analysis to Congress.  Each March, the CBO publishes an analysis of the President’s proposal.  In February and March,  the House and Senate Budget Committees reviews the President’s proposal and begins preparation of budget resolutions.

CBO publishes reports and analysis throughout the year on fiscal policy, for example, “Choices for Deficit Reduction.”  The Office of Management and Budget administers the budget and also works with the President in preparing his budget proposal.

Read more about the budget process:

The Federal Budget Process,” Washington Post, Jan. 31, 2010.

Olezeck, Walter, Congressional Procedures and Policy Process

Joyce, Phillip G., The Congressional Budget Office:  Honest Numbers, Power and Policymaking.

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