UT alumnus David Berteau spoke Tuesday about the current debt ceiling and budget issues Congress is working through, citing it as an example of the complicated nature of managing the nation’s finances.
Berteau, senior vice president and director of the Center for Strategic and International Studies in Washington D.C., said the president gives his initial budget but only starts with the total amount and later discloses the specific breakdown. This budget is followed by the House budget and the Senate budget. After deliberations among the three parties, the final allocation budget is created.
According to Berteau, the process of creating and passing a final budget often involves an extended timeline. The yearly budget is supposed to be due from the president by the second Tuesday in February, but delays often happen.
“Technically, it was due today, but the president has chosen to delay the budget,” Berteau said. “He didn’t know the starting point of that budget from [the] fiscal year 2014 for the 2015 budget.”
The decision to raise the debt ceiling, which was passed by the House on Tuesday, presents its own challenges.
“The debt ceiling was a different problem, and, by this point, the president had come so close to default that there’s a little bit more trepidation,” Berteau said. “There’s a lot fewer people on the Republican side thinking that bankruptcy’s such a bad thing. Of course, the fact that the global market kind of relies on it [makes it] non-trivial.”
Berteau’s talk was part of the LBJ School of Public Affair’s GPS International Speakers Colloquium Series. Public affairs graduate student Ashley Haustein said Berteau’s time working in D.C. and his specific knowledge of recent events gave a more experienced perspective to the discussion of America’s financial state.
“My prime motivation was the shutdown in the fall,” Haustein said. “I wanted to know more about where we are on the shutdown … and get an insider input. I’m just really glad he had the opportunity to come down. It’s really nice when alumni in the policy world come back … It makes our education seem more insightful and practical.”
Haustein said she enjoyed Berteau’s level of interactivity during the lecture. Public affairs associate professor Eugene Gholz said people benefited from Berteau dedicating time to mapping out all the concepts he referenced during his speech.
“[There were] lots of great details about really big budget challenges facing the U.S.,” Gholz said. “It was short term specifics, but in broader contexts, so it was useful.”