New Politics of the Budgetary Process (Longman Classics Series), The

Aaron Wildavsky / Naomi Caiden  
Total pages
July 2003
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New Politics of the Budgetary Process (Longman Classics Series), The
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Among the new class of inductees into the “Longman Classics in Political Science” Series, this Fifth Edition updates and revises Aaron Wildavsky's classic exposition of how federal budget decisions are made and how formal budget institutions and processes are interwoven with political dynamics.

This text explains how the federal budget process has evolved and analyzes recent developments in key areas: entitlements, defense, deficit/surplus and reforms. Its critical and stimulating approach and clear, readable explanations make it essential reading for students of politics and public administration, as well as anyone trying to understand a decision-making process that affects virtually all Americans.


  • Unique focus on politics: This text brings together two elements-politics and budgeting-that are usually kept separate, providing students with a real-world, dynamic view of federal budgeting.
  • Historical presentation of the federal budget: To fully understand budgetary processes today, we must know how they developed. This text is the only one available that gives students the historical material they need to fully understand the system today.
  • Critical Analysis: Not simply a dull recitation of facts, the book's critical approach engages students' interest and invites them to question and evaluate different topics.

New to this Edition

  • As part of the “Longman Classics in Political Science” Series, a new Foreword by Don Kettl of the University of Wisconsin-Madison explores the book's historical and enduring contribution to the discipline.
  • New chapter introductions present students with the key points and topics in each chapter, to better focus their reading.
  • Detailed coverage of the events of September 11, 2001 and their affect on the federal budget processes.
  • New coverage of key, contemporary issues: the huge tax cut of the first Bush budget; the disappearance of the budget surplus; the failure to come to grips with the looming crisis of the retirement of the aging baby-boom generation; the restructuring of defense and homeland security; uncertainties of economic recession following unprecedented boom.
  • Chapter 7 from the Fourth Edition, “The Politics of Radical Reversal” has been condensed and integrated into Chapter 6, “The Politics of Balancing Budgets,” reflecting the fact that the vaunted “Republican Revolution” did not happen.
  • Coverage and prose throughout has been substantially streamlined and economized, offering students the same topics and depth in a more straightforward, understandable fashion.

Table of Contents

 1. Budgeting as Conflicting Promises.

 2. Budgets as Struggles for Power: A Historical Perspective.

 3. The Dance of the Dollars: Classical Budgeting.

 4. The Collapse of Consensus.

 5. The Politics of Dissensus.

 6. The Politics of Balancing Budgets.

 7. Deficits and Surpluses.

 8. Entitlement.

 9. Budgeting for Defense.

10. Reform.

11. Budget of Opposites.


Guide to Acronyms.

Select Bibliography.