Budgeting Entitlements

The Politics of Food Stamps

Ronald F. King

"One of the best works so far in integrating budgeting into the general study of the American welfare state."
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As budgetary concerns have come to dominate Congressional action, the design and implementation of welfare programs have come under greater scrutiny. This book focuses on the food stamp program to examine how the growing integration of welfare and budgeting has affected both politics and people.

Applying insightful analysis to this important policy topic, Ronald F. King looks at the effects on welfare transfers of the kinds of budgetary rules adopted by Congress: discretion, entitlement, and expenditure caps. King uses models based on these forms to interpret the events in the history of the food stamp program up to the welfare reform of 1996, and he shows how these different budget rules have affected political strategies among key actors and policy outcomes.

King analyzes tensions in the program between budgetary concerns and entitlement, revealing that budget mechanisms which seek to cap the growth of entitlement spending have perverse but predictable effects. He also explores the broader conflict between procedural and substantive justice, which pits inclusive democratic decision-making against special protections for the needy and vulnerable in society.

The food stamp program offers a valuable opportunity for studying the influence of shifting institutional factors. In an era when budgetary anxieties coexist with continuing poverty, King's book sheds new light on the increasing fiscalization of welfare in America.

Table of Contents

Preface and Acknowledgments

1. Introduction: Budget Politics and Welfare Politics

2. Model Behavior: Th Problems of Costs and the Forms of Budget Control

3. Stamping In: Discretionary Budgeting and the Origins of the Food Stamp Program, 1964-1973

4. Caps On: Entitlement Budgeting and the Politics of Uncontrollable Food Stamp Spending, 1974-1977

5. Cap Sizes: Food Stamp Budget Caps under Unified Partisan Control, 1978-1980

6. Top Hats: Food Stamp Budget Caps under Divided Partisan Control, 1981-1984

7. Caps Off: The Repeal of Food Stamp Budget Caps in an Era of Fiscal Constraint, 1985-1990

8. Old Hat: The Return of Entitlement Politics and the Revival of Budget Cap Proposals, 1991-1994

9. Block HeadsL Food Stamp Budget Control and the Politics of Welfare Reform, 1995-1996

10. Re-Caps: Food Stamps and Budget Rules in Retrospect and Prospect

Food Stamp Program, Fiscal Years 1961-1998, Authorization Ceilings, Appropriations, and Outlays



"One of the best works so far in integrating budgeting into the general study of the American welfare state."—American Politics

"A work of interest and usefulness not only to scholars of publc policy but to graduate and undergraduate college students and even to the general reader who wishes to know more about the inner workings of government policy."—Social Service Review

"Essential reading for scholars, policymakers, and citizens concerned about the future of the welfare state."—Michael K. Brown, University of California, Santa Cruz

"An exemplary book of political analysis, one that uses the Food Stamp program to illustrate the clash between the aims of budgeting and the aims of welfare policy, and at the same time illuminates more generally how institutions shape policy results."—Theodore R. Marmor, Yale University School of Management

"King offers an insightful look at the politics and budgeting of a specific entitlement program in the United States."—Center for the Study of Public Policy


Supplemental Materials


About the Author

Ronald F. King is a professor of political science at Tulane University and author of Money, Time and Politics: Investment Tax Subsidies and American Democracy(1993).

272 pp., 6 x 9

ISBN: 978-0-87840-797-2
Aug 2000

272 pp., 6 x 9

Aug 2000

272 pp.

ISBN: 978-1-58901-283-7
Aug 2000

American Governance and Public Policy series
Gerard W. Boychuk, Karen Mossberger, and Mark C. Rom, Series Editors

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