MLD-420 Federal Budget Policy with Howell E. Jackson

The goal of MLD-420  Federal Budget Policy is to introduce students to the law and practice of budgeting in the United States. Taught by Howell Jackson, James S. Reid, Jr. Professor of Law at Harvard Law School, students in this course will explore the basic structure of the federal budget process, including the President’s budget and congressional budgeting procedures that are supposed to govern federal spending. Over the course of the semester, students examine in greater detail the roles of all three branches of federal government in setting budget policy in the United States, discussing government shut-downs, debt ceiling crises, and ongoing debates over budget reforms and fiscal challenges. The course will also take up the budgeting of entitlements and coordination of fiscal policies within a federal system. Of special interest, students will also explore several budgeting topics that received considerable attention in recent years: funding issues related to military spending/national security, entitlement reform, appropriate fiscal targets in a post-COVID-19 world, and the Biden Administration’s efforts to establish budget priorities over the past two years.

Full Topic list includes:

  • Introduction to Federal Budget Process and Policy
  • The Role of Congress & the President in Federal Budgeting
  • Modern Federal Budgeting & Scoring Baselines
  • Budgetary Aggregates
  • Modern Federal Budgeting and Normative Frameworks
  • Presidential Budgeting and its Boundaries
  • Government Shutdowns and Budgeting in the Trump Administration
  • Accounting for the Federal Government and Student Loans
  • Executive Powers and Defense Budgeting
  • Fiscal Federalism
  • Entitlements
  • Comparative Budget Policy and Reform Proposals

MLD-420 is jointly listed at Harvard Law School (Link here). It will be taught Tuesdays, 8:00 am to 10:00 am on Harvard Law School Campus. For additional information about this course contact Prof. Jackson or Vincenza Rico at HLS.

Greg Dorchak

Administrator of the Management, Leadership, and Decision Sciences Area at the Harvard Kennedy School.