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The Politics of Fiscal Responsibility: A Comparative Perspective

by Tonya E. Thornton (Author), F. Stevens Redburn

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Fiscal policy challenges following the Great Recession forced members of the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) to implement a set of economic policies to manage public debt. Most actions centered on major spending cuts and increasing taxes in an attempt to manage political and social fallout. Governments put fiscal austerity measures in place when their debt is so large that the inability to honor required service payments or the risk of total default to obligations becomes a significant possibility. Accountability is an iconic concept in public management, offering symbolic responsibility and reassurance. It is part of an ethical principal of transparency situated in administrative accountability. The resilience of national economies worldwide ultimately requires a balance between near-term growth and longer-term fiscal consolidation. Still, the reality of social stressors raises questions for politically sustainability. As the OECD member nations emerged from the fiscal fall out in 2008, question about whether democratic countries can take pro-active leadership before a crisis forces their hand emerged. This book is a collection of country chapters detailing their austerity response to such an interconnected and punctuating event.

Tonya E. Thornton, PhD, is a Principal with and Founder of Delta Point Solutions, LLC, an interdisciplinary, social, policy, and administrative sciences consulting firm with expertise in community resiliency, emergency management, and public safety. She is also a subject matter expert in critical infrastructure for the U.S. Department of Defense. Dr. Thornton’s work has been published in numerous peer-reviewed journals, and she is the editor of Managing Challenges for the Flint Water Crisis (2021).

F. Stevens Redburn, PhD, is a lecturer, budget advisor, and expert authority on financial management, government performance, and public policy with over 25 years of experience as a senior government official in the U.S. Office of Management and Budget and the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development. As a participant in deliberations of the National Budgeting Roundtable since 2014, he has helped lead research on reform of the federal government’s budget process. Internationally, he has consulted on budget processes World Bank and for the International Monetary Fund.