Title page for ETD etd-05182011-232050

Type of Document Master's Thesis
Author Sage, Michael
Author's Email Address michas1@vt.edu
URN etd-05182011-232050
Title The Political Economy of the Emerging U.S. Fiscal Crisis
Degree Master of Public and International Affairs
Department Public and International Affairs
Advisory Committee
Advisor Name Title
Rothschild, Joyce Committee Chair
Datz, Giselle Committee Member
Luke, Timothy W. Committee Member
  • History of U.S. Federal Budget
  • Fiscal Crisis
  • U.S. Fiscal Policy
  • Financial Crisis
  • Political Economy
Date of Defense 2011-05-03
Availability restricted
The United States suffered a severe financial crisis in September of 2008, the

effects of which are still strongly reverberating throughout the national economy

and the finances of American government. While the financial downturn greatly

exacerbated the nation’s immediate fiscal stress, government policies have played

a large role in the longer-term economic challenges. The buildup of financial

insecurity for individuals and businesses since the 1970s, brought to painfully

emphatic clarity by the 2008 financial crash, has citizens of all political

persuasions deeply concerned about the future of the Republic. This thesis attempts

to explain the historical context which is indispensable to understanding the

significance of our current fiscal challenges. In doing so, we come to the

conclusion that rising entitlement spending, coupled with severe problems within

the nation’s tax system, have become the primary drivers of the significant fiscal

stress that is building. I argue that the most immediately viable option for reversing

this trend, in a way that supports economic opportunity for all, is to implement

fundamental tax reform to lift the current system’s burdens of complication,

inefficiency, and inequity off the shoulders of American taxpayers and businesses.

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