Newswise — President Biden's recently proposed budget for fiscal 2024 set forth plans to increase spending on the military and to provide a wide range of new social programs while reducing future budget deficits with increased taxes on the wealthy and big businesses. 

University of Notre Dame's Jeffrey J. Harden is available to speak to the media about the government spending showdown and how a divided U.S. Congress could use this challenge as an opportunity to compromise. 

Jeffrey J. Harden is the Andrew J. McKenna Family Associate Professor in the Department of Political Science, Concurrent Associate Professor in the Department of Applied and Computational Mathematics and Statistics, and Faculty Affiliate of the Lucy Family Institute for Data & Society at the University of Notre Dame.

Harden's comments are also available for immediate pick-up:

"The policy implications, clear deadlines and major negative consequences of failing to meet those deadlines give budgetary and debt limit negotiations some of the highest stakes in national politics. This issue reduces down to attitudes toward the value of compromise in the American public and among lawmakers in Washington. In the abstract, most people will say that they value compromise. The image of legislators working across the aisle is appealing to citizens who are frustrated by gridlock and members of Congress who want to generate a wide base of fundraising and electoral support. 

"But when it comes down to specific issues, such as spending on social programs or taxes, this preference for compromise often disappears. Supporters of each party in the public don't want their representatives to concede any more than is absolutely necessary. Lawmakers are aware of this preference and fearful of facing a primary challenger who is more ideological than them in the future. So they tend to reject proposals for policy change even if those proposals are better than the current policy in their minds. Moreover, in the highly-polarized climate of the modern Congress, members are hesitant to give the other party and the president a victory in the form of the chance to claim that their proposal achieved bipartisan support. 

"Both parties (and the nation) would be mutually better off if they compromised, but there is not enough trust between them to commit to working together. Accordingly, they both take the self-interested route, refuse to negotiate and claim the other side is operating in bad faith. The result is brinkmanship, ideological rhetoric and delay. I expect that a budget will be passed, but near the deadline and after being negotiated by only a small group of lawmakers. That approach allows both sides to claim that they did all they could. It also affords many members of Congress the chance to continue voicing their frustrations over the process and outcome even after voting in favor."