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The United States has increasingly designed certain public spending programs not as traditional tax-financed programs, but rather as mixtures of private expenditures, subsidies, and limited taxes. Thus part of what could have gone to the government as a tax is instead used to purchase the good or service directly, with only incremental taxes and subsidies to manage distributional goals. This Article terms this “quasi-public spending,” and argues that it is descriptive of our evolving approaches to both health care and higher education. Based on this observation, the Article defines and analyzes quasipublic spending and compares it to both traditional public spending and tax expenditures. The Article finds that in some situations, quasi-public spending may be a worthwhile approach to financing public programs, though with some qualifications. Based on this analysis, the Article puts forward a framework for when policymakers should use quasi-public spending and applies that theory to a number of policy questions.

Publication Citation

104 Geo. L.J. 1057 (2016)