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A Caution on Biennial Budgeting

One proposal that reportedly received some support at yesterday’s meeting of the President’s Fiscal Commission was the idea of moving the federal budget from an annual to a biennial cycle.  Proponents claim biennial budgeting will lead to more thoughtful budgeting and improved congressional oversight.

Understandably, many people are frustrated by the difficulties Congress has had in producing a budget in recent years.  (Congress hasn’t approved any of the regular appropriations bills for the fiscal year that starts tomorrow, for example, so lawmakers have had to enact a short-term continuing resolution to fund the government in the meantime.)  But biennial budgeting proposals have been around for years and when we examined this issue back in 2006, we concluded that the disadvantages of biennial budgeting are likely to outweigh the advantages; our report explains why.