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Extra info for Putting Trust in the US Budget: Federal Trust Funds and the Politics of Commitment (Theories of Institutional Design)
20 Trust fund ®nancing can help protect the Treasury directly by helping to mobilize new revenues. 21 Because the objective is ®scal restraint and not allocative 18 19 20 21 See Buchanan, ``The Economics of Earmarked Taxes,'' 377±90; and Charles J. Goetz, ``Earmarked Taxes and Majority Rule Budgetary Processes,'' The American Economic Review, 58, 1968, 128±36. Horn, The Political Economy of Public Administration, 85. On the power of the balanced budget norm in American history, see James Savage, Balanced Budgets and American Politics (Ithaca: Cornell University Press, 1988).
As will be seen in the case accounts, however, federal trust funds also exist to enforce long-term commitments to cost recovery and spending restraint. Seen in this light, trust fund solvency crises can potentially help perpetuate the goals of ®scally conservative program architects. 41 Ideas and policy images can 37 38 39 40 41 Derthick, Policymaking for Social Security, 198±9. Virginia P. Reno and Robert B. Friedland, ``Strong Support but Low Con®dence,'' in Eric R. Kingson and James H. , Social Security in the 21st Century (New York: Oxford University Press, 1997).
General fund taxes Taxation is inherently political but all taxes do not generate the same political dynamics. An important distinction can be drawn between federal taxes precommitted for speci®c trust fund activities, on the one hand (mainly payroll taxes), and federal taxes which are considered general revenues (virtually all income taxes, corporate taxes, and certain excise taxes), on the other. This chapter compares the political economies of trust funds and general funds. While a deep understanding of trust fund politics requires a close analysis of actual cases, this approach can produce some insights into overall patterns of resource mobilization in American national government.