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“Where Does the Money Go?” by Scott Bittle and Jean Johnson

Summary of the book

In their book, Scott Bittle and Jean Johnson discuss various financial problems that currently affect the United States. Overall, the authors focus on such an issue as the growing national debt of the country (Bittle and Johnson 4). In their opinion, this tendency has long been overlooked by policy-makers; as a result, the government already owes more than 12 trillion dollars to other countries (Bittle and Johnson 4).

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The main risk is that these foreign investors may eventually decide that the U.S. securities are not reliable. Additionally, the writers examine various inefficiencies that led to the budget crisis. In particular, one should speak about the flaws in the design of social security and healthcare policies.

Admittedly, there are some objective factors that contribute to these problems. For instance, it is necessary to examine current demographic trends such as the aging of baby boomers. Nevertheless, more attention should be paid to the drawbacks of existing fiscal and budgetary policies.

Apart from that, the authors examine various strategies and agendas adopted by politicians. Many of them argue that it is necessary to reduce the national debt of the United States. Nevertheless, they are unwilling to take unpopular steps that can undermine their political careers. Researchers elaborate various solutions to the budgetary problems faced by the country. For instance, they advocate the need to reduce spending on different governmental programs. Among them, one can distinguish military expenditures.

Overall, the authors believe that American citizens should examine the agenda of politicians more critically. In particular, it is necessary to evaluate the efficiency of their monetary, social, and fiscal policies that should provide tangible solutions to the budgetary problems of the United States.

Discussion of the main issues

Overall, it is possible to distinguish three issues that are important for the authors. At first, one should certainly mention the growing debt of the country. Other researchers also focus on this problem; for example, Daniel Thornton argues that it is necessary to develop mechanisms that can prevent the government from moving into deficit (441).

Furthermore, one can refer to the research article written by Ioannis Kallianiotis who believes that the increasing national debt of the country can considerably weaken the purchasing power of many American people (108). In the author’s opinion, this tendency can significantly increase the vulnerability of the country. Thus, it is possible to argue that scholars agree with the arguments put forward by Scott Bittle and Jean Johnson who believe that this trend can produce adverse effects on the livelihood of every American citizen.

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Additionally, the authors of this book emphasize current inefficiencies of governmental expenditures. In many cases, these costs may be used to serve the interests of bureaucracies, but they do not necessarily promote the welfare of people. To some degree, this assumption is supported by various scholars. For instance, Jean Harris lays stress on the importance of auditing governmental agencies. In particular, auditors are supposed to ensure that these institutions make the most efficient use of the resources that are available to them (Harris 179).

It is critical to focus on the clarity of their financial reporting. Additionally, researchers note that the task of the government is to provide a stimulus for the economic development (Brons, Groot, and Nijkamp 547). Additionally, the state should help people become more self-sufficient and independent of the government. Nevertheless, this objective is often disregarded by modern policy-makers. As a result, the state has to increase its expenditures.

There is another question that attracts the writers’ attention. In particular, they discuss the role of politicians who are unwilling to take unpopular decisions. For instance, they do not often speak about the necessity to reduce governmental expenditures because this agenda can diminish their chances of success.

The main problem is that this behavior can only intensify the financial problems of the state. This issue is also examined by other researchers. For instance, Michael McGrath discusses the populist rhetoric of legislators who often offer over-simplified solutions to existing economic problems (52). Additionally, one can refer to the arguments made by Alan Blinder who notes that lax fiscal policy and increased governmental expenditures eventually lead to budgetary deficits (323).

Each of these issues is important for me because it can affect millions of Americans. Additionally, the effects of these problems can only intensify in the long term. If these difficulties are not overcome, a greater number of people will be dependent on the financial help offered by the state. Furthermore, the purchasing power of American citizens may decline. So, it is vital to reduce these risks.


The book written by Scott Bittle and Jean Johnson poses many questions that should be of great concern to American citizens and policy-makers. In particular, one should pay attention to such issues as the increasing debt of the country, inefficient expenditures, and populism of many people who want to rise to political power.

The main impact of this book is that the authors help readers assess American politicians more critically. Finally, a candidate for any political office should discuss existing problems with openness and integrity. These qualities will be of great importance to me.

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Works Cited

Bittle, Scott, and Jean Johnson. Where Does the Money Go? Rev Ed: Your Guided Tour to the Federal Budget Crisis, New York: Harper, 2011. Print.

Blinder, Alan. “Tight Money And Loose Fiscal Policy.” Society 35.2 (1998): 319-323.

Brons, Martijn, Henri Groot, and Peter Nijkamp. “Growth Effects Of Governmental Policies: A Comparative Analysis In A Multi-Country Context.” Growth And Change 31.4 (2000): 547-572. Print.

Harris, Jean. “The Discourse Of Governmental Accounting And Auditing.” Public Budgeting and Finance 10.15 (2005): 154-179. Print.

Kallianiotis, Ioannis. “The Future Of The U.S. Dollar As An International Currency Reserve and Its Depreciation.” Proceedings of The Northeast Business & Economics Association 15.20 (2013): 108-111. Print.

McGrath, Michael. “The Histories of Populism.” National Civic Review 102.2 (2013): 50-56. Print.

Thornton, Daniel. “The U.S. Deficit/Debt Problem: A Longer-Run Perspective.” Federal Reserve Bank Of St. Louis Review 94.6 (2012): 441-455. Print.

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