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University of California - Davis




Like a student blocking his access to the internet to help him study, governments across the globe rely on commitment devices to generate fiscal discipline. From the collapse of the Congressional Supercommittee in the United States to the near-cataclysmic failure of a mechanism designed to prevent the European Union debt crisis, the evidence suggests that faith in such commitment devices is misplaced. This Article focuses on one such device that stubbornly refuses to stay dead: the tax expenditure budget. Created to guard against abuse by publicizing the costs of tax subsidies then resurrected as a bean counter, the tax expenditure budget is a zombie accountant. Dreadfully unsuited to its new life, the tax expenditure budget produces information that is both flawed and limited.

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