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

Hosted by Urban-Brookings Tax Policy Center & USC-Caltech Center for the Study of Law and Politics

This 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.

FRIDAY, JANUARY 15, 2010 • 8 a.m. - 4 p.m.
USC 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

Live Webcast:
Morning session:

Afternoon session:


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

An Update on the Economic Crisis and Fiscal Crisis: 2009 and Beyond

8:35 - 8:55 a.m. LEONARD BURMAN, Maxwell School of Syracuse University

Is the United States Headed for a Catastrophic Budget Failure?

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

Tax Expenditure Framework Legislation

10:20 - 10:40 a.m. ROSANNE ALTSHULER, KATHERINE LIM, and ROBERTON WILLIAMS, Urban-Brookings Tax Policy Center

Desperately Seeking Revenue

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

1:05 - 1:25 p.m. JOSHUA RAUH, Kellogg School of Management, Northwestern University

Are State Public Pensions Sustainable?

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</h5>]

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

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)

3:10 - 3:20 p.m. Comment: SAMUEL SESSIONS, David Geffen School of Medicine, UCLA

3:20 - 4:00 p.m. Discussion

4:00 p.m. Reception, USC Gould School of Law, Faculty Lounge