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Train Wreck: A Conference on America's Looming Fiscal Crisis

Urban-Brookings Tax Policy Center/USC-Caltech Center for the Study of Law and Politics

Friday, January 15, 2010
8:00 a.m. – 4:00 p.m., Pacific time
Gould School of Law, Room 7
University of Southern California
699 Exposition Blvd.
Los Angeles, CA 90089-0074

To attend this event in Los Angeles register at

To view a live Webcast from your computer:

Morning session:

Afternoon session:

train wreckThis conference on the long-term fiscal crisis will bring together leading experts from a range of disciplines to assess the causes of the current crisis, the magnitude of the challenge facing the country in the next decade, and the possible responses by the federal government and the states. Four panels will discuss key issues related to the long-term fiscal crisis: the anatomy of the long-term fiscal crisis; the federal budget process and the demand for revenue; the fiscal crisis in the states; and the role of health entitlements in the fiscal crisis at all levels of government. Each panel will include presentations of two papers, a comment on those papers by a discussant, and time for audience discussion on the topic. The presentations and discussion will engage the audience that will be comprised of scholars, policy makers and members of the public.


8:00 a.m. Welcome from DEAN ROBERT RASMUSSEN, USC Gould School of Law
8:15 - 9:45 a.m. Anatomy of the Fiscal Crisis
Moderator: ELLEN APRILL, Loyola Law School
8:15 - 8:35 a.m. ALAN AUERBACH, UC, Berkeley and WILLIAM GALE, Brookings Institution - PowerPoint Presentation
An Update on the Economic Crisis and Fiscal Crisis: 2009 and Beyond - Dowload this Paper 
8:35 - 8:55 a.m. LEONARD BURMAN, Maxwell School of Syracuse University - Power Point Presentation
Is the United States Headed for a Catastrophic Budget Failure? - Download this Paper
8:55 - 9:05 a.m. Comment: EDWARD MCCAFFERY, USC Gould School of Law
9:05 - 9:45 a.m. Discussion
9:45 a.m. Break
10:00 - 11:30 a.m. Budget Process and the Demand for Revenue
Moderator: ERIC ZOLT, UCLA School of Law
10:00 - 10:20 a.m. EDWARD KLEINBARD, USC Gould School of Law - Power Point Presentation
Tax Expenditure Framework Legislation - Download this Paper
10:20 - 10:40 a.m. ROSANNE ALTSHULER, KATHERINE LIM, and ROBERTON WILLIAMS, Urban-Brookings Tax Policy Center - PowerPoint Presentation
Desperately Seeking Revenue - Download this Paper
10:40 - 10:50 a.m. Comment: ELIZABETH GARRETT, USC Gould School of Law
10:50 - 11:30 a.m. Discussion
11:30 a.m. Lunch
12:45 p.m. Fiscal Crisis in the States
Moderator: JEAN ROSS, California Budget Project
Making Mountains of Debt out of Molehills: The Pro-cyclical Effects of Tax Limitations on State Revenue and Debt - Download this Paper
1:05 - 1:25 p.m. JOSHUA RAUH, Kellogg School of Management, Northwestern University
Are State Public Pensions Sustainable? - Download this Paper
1:25 - 1:35 p.m. Comment: JOHN MATSUSAKA, Marshall School of Business, USC
1:35 - 2:15 p.m. Discussion
2:15 p.m. Break
2:30 - 4:00 p.m. Health Entitlements
Moderator: ELIZABETH GRADDY, USC School of Policy, Planning, and Development
2:30 - 2:50 p.m. DANA GOLDMAN, USC School of Policy, Planning and Development
Population Health and Longevity as a Driver of Fiscal Imbalance - Download this Paper
2:50 - 3:10 p.m. JOYCE MANCHESTER, Congressional Budget Office
The Long-Term Budget Outlook in the United States and the Role of Health Care Entitlements (presented by DONALD MARRON, Georgetown Public Policy Institute, Georgetown University) - PowerPoint Presentation - Download this Paper
3:10 - 3:20 p.m. Comment: SAMUEL SESSIONS, David Geffen School of Medicine, UCLA - PowerPoint Presentation
3:20 - 4:00 p.m. Discussion
4:00 p.m. Reception, USC Gould School of Law, Faculty Lounge