Review of Statement of Robert Greenstein on the President’s 2016 Budget”

A review of “Statement of Robert Greenstein on the President’s 2016 Budget”

Introduction

The United States President, Barack Obama, has recently announced his government’s 2016 budget proposal. According to the Whitehouse’s Office of Management and Budget, President Obama’s 7th budget proposal has brought changes that will revive the American economy (whitehouse.gov). The proposal has provoked the scrutiny from various analysts, both within and outside the US.  As a leading economy in the globe, the United States budgetary matters are of interest to almost every economic analyst (Korn & Porter, 2015). This is because the US is a benchmark economy for most countries, and it is an important trade partner with several foreign countries (Korn & Porter, 2015). Further, any government’s budget proposal bears both the political and economic significance. While the economists evaluate a budget plan with an intention of making the country’s financial position better, the political analyst critiques it as a tool for measuring the government’s effectiveness. Irrespective of the motive, however, budget analysts help in putting a proposed budget into perspective. This essay critiques a budget analysis report of Robert Greenstein, as detailed in his article “Statement of Robert Greenstein on the President’s 2016 Budget”.

Published on 4th February 2015, Greenstein’s statement is a timely and relevant piece that puts the US’ 2016 budget into perspective (2015). The author, Robert Greenstein is a renowned economist, famous for his analytical reports on fiscal and other domestic policies. Greenstein is the founder of the Center on Budget and policy Priorities, an institution that is always examining the United States public policies. In this article, Greenstein expresses his views on the various sections of the 2016 budget proposal as well as its anticipated impacts on ordinary Americans. Therefore, this article is important as it expresses the views of a prominent economic analyst concerning the proposed budget. Other Americans who are interested in budget matters can apply it. The present analysis aims at assessing how Greenstein’s statement meets its objective of breaking down the 2016 budget proposal. It also examines the paper’s organization, validity as well as its strengths and weaknesses.

Article Summary

The federal budget is a complex representation; however, Greenstein’s statement has narrowed down the important aspects of the 2016 proposal. Firstly, Greenstein addresses the significant ways in which the government intends to spend its revenue. For instance, he notes that the government will be investing in education and general childcare. According to him, the government will fund college education to make it more affordable to low income earners. Still on education matters, the government has also pledged to bring down the cost of childcare to make it affordable to the poor and middle class Americans. Increased education funding, as Greenstein’s expounds, is part of the government’s key measures to reduce poverty through creating skilled future manpower.

Despite the increased investments in the budget proposal, Greenstein notes that the government spending is not as big as it appears. According to him, the total federal spending for the next one decade is estimated to average 21.75% of the Gross Domestic Product (GDP). The US intends to reduce the discretionary spending to its all-time lowest level by 2019 (Greenstein, 2015). According to Greenstein, Obama’s budget projection is that the US would to attain the Regan-era average by 2025.

Apart from the investment strategies of the 2016 budget, Greenstein expounds on the number of the new and reformed policies that President Obama introduced in his proposal. For example, Obama has focused on various insurance covers, including crop and joblessness cover. The 2016 budget proposes permanent provision on tax programs that will increase the effectiveness in revenue collections and allocation. These changes include the protective measures in Child and Income tax credits that aim at shielding the low and modest income earners from excessive taxation. Other tax reforms, such as the proposed change to Capital gain tax are meant to eradicate undue tax shelter while promoting capital investments.

In addition to unmasking the content of the proposed budget, Greenstein, like other analysts, has also given his views on the proposed budget. According to him, Obama’s proposed budget is remarkable. Greenstein has termed the budget critiques as being “off-base” in their argument (2014). According to him, Obama has reasonably outlined where the country ought to be headed without considering the political wave of the Congress. Although Greenstein acknowledge that the budget proposal is ambitious, he applauds the president for laying the ground for future policy debates. While expressing his confidence with the 2016 budget proposal, Greenstein predict that despite the congressional politics, the congress is likely to approve most of the clauses in the 2016 budget proposal. However, some sections in the 2016 budget are up for a long-term debate in America.

Article critique

Greenstein’s statement reveals the positive side of 2016 proposed budget; but how convincing is his article? In my opinion, Greenstein has done a commendable job in revealing the possible gains of the proposed 2016 budget. He has expounded on the relevant policy changes that would uplift the life of a common American. He has also outlined the possible long-term impacts of the proposed budget in streamlining government spending. In addition, Greenstein expresses his confidence with the budget by suggesting that the Congress is likely to adopt most of the proposed policies. While appreciating that some of the proposed policies may be premature for America, Greenstein terms it as a good start for the country, as it forms debate for future policies.

Aside from the article’s content, the paper’s organization makes it appealing to the reader. Firstly, Greenstein has used steady subheadings that direct the reader to the main points of arguments. Headings enable the reader to navigate through specific information, thus making it easy to decipher the intended message. Some subheadings can also be catchy to arouse the reader’s curiosity to keep on. In Greenstein’s article, for example, the subheading “dead on arrival?” is an appealing question that can keep the reader to keep on reading. Further, the question appears towards the end of the document where the author answers it by presenting his/her opinion.

While appreciating that Greenstein’s article is well organized, the current critique found issues with his introduction. Although most readers can figure out that he is commenting on a certain budget proposal, he ought to have made a clear introduction of which precise budget plan he is referring to. Will it be entirely clear to the readers five years from now that he was commenting on the just pronounced proposal? In addition to mentioning it in the title, giving slightly more details of the 2016 budget would add clarity to the article. However, it is easy for everyone to identify with the topic while it is trending; but will it trend forever?

Although Greenstein has outlined reasons as to why Obama’s budget is beneficial, he is inconsistent in his analysis. He leaves out relevant data that would justify his remarks. For example, he suggests that the budget is proposing massive investment on education, but how huge? What is the percentage of the overall spending or is there an increment from the last fiscal budget? On comparing articles by other analysts who also took note of increased investment on education, the researcher identified an article by Korn and Porter of the wall street journal (2015). By contrast, these two authors have statistically quantified their proposition. Greenstein should have laid facts on the proposed investments in a similar manner that he has vividly analyzed changes in tax policy. In addition, Greenstein’s has mostly given his opinion without comparing material facts with the past or other countries’ data. For instance, when he says that the budget is economically beneficial, does he mean that it is beneficial than the previous budgets.

One of the apparent weaknesses of Greenstein’s article is failure to recognize the opponent views. Throughout the article, Greenstein has consistently referred to the arguments by “other commentators”. However, he did not mention a single analyst or group of analysts. Are the commentators only hypothetical? If not, Greenstein should have referred to a particular article that he is opposing.

Another question that emerges from Greenstein’s article regards his honest views on the budget. Is this budget proposal flawless? As depicted in the article, Greenstein has not listed any fault in his reservation with either section or policy. Does this mean that the budget is all positive or could he be biased? An excellent critical analysis points out both the negative and positives. However, he has chosen a good title for his article since it does not read an analysis, which needs to be unbiased. Rather, his title reads that it is a personal statement, and thus some level of biases may be accepted.

Despite the few weaknesses noticed in the article, Greenstein’s message is substantially valid. It is logical and relevant to the concept of budgetary policies. Greenstein contributes to the US heated debate on the recently announced budget proposal. On his part, Greenstein sides with the government in supporting the proposed budget. This article may be used in rating the public opinion of the proposed budget as it stands as Greenstein’s personal views. However, it may also be used as an educative tool for the standard American on the subject matter of the proposed budget. However, the article may not give a clear picture, as it leaves a sizeable number of questions unanswered.

Conclusion

In summary, Greenstein’s article is a well-organized piece that clearly presents the views of the author. It summarizes the major policies in 2016 proposed budget, with keen interest in the policies that have a direct impact on ordinary Americans. However, Greenstein is inconsistent with his analysis and dismisses certain material data that would strengthen his point of argument. However, the article is partially convincing the reader by concentrating on the positive side of the proposed budget. It would be more convincing if the author recognized and tried to discredit the dissenting opinion.

 

 

 

References

Office of Management and budget. (2015). The President’s Budget for Fiscal Year 2016. http://www.whitehouse.gov/omb/budget/

Greenstein, R. (2015). Statement of Robert Greenstein on the President’s 2016 Budget. Center on Budget and policy Priorities. http://www.cbpp.org/cms/?fa=view&id=5263

Korn, M., & Porter, C. (2015) Obama’s Proposed Budget Seeks More for Education. The Wall Street Journal. http://www.wsj.com/articles/obamas-proposed-budget-seeks-more-for-education-1422898651