Date of Award


Document Type


Primary Advisor

Dr. Lyle Bowlin


Over the last few years, policymakers and the media have paid special attention to the federal budget, deficits and the national debt as the recent recession plunged the nation into the red. In response, some called for fiscal tightening while others simultaneously advocated for further stimulus spending to accelerate the recovery. Beyond the debate on how to respond to the short-term deficits caused by the recession and a sluggish recovery are discussions of looming budgetary struggles. The medium to long-term budget concerns are driven primarily by the United States’ rapidly aging society and rising health care costs. These two factors are of chief concern because Medicare, Medicaid, and Social Security comprise a large portion of annual federal spending. Some respond to these warnings by emphasizing the unreliability that inevitably results when one attempts to project into the future. Others counter that the recent recession has led to historically high levels of debt and the United States must proactively reduce the level of debt relative to the economy in order to provide flexibility for additional debt accumulation should these programs or another unforeseen event strain the nation’s finances.