In March 2015, I gave a talk at the National Institute for Computer-Assisted Reporting (NICAR) conference – an annual gathering of journalists who use data to tell stories – about how to keep tabs on government spending.
My presentation, part of a panel called “Watchdogging Public Spending,” focused on one aspect of government spending that I don’t think gets as much attention as it does: Where governments get money to pay for things.
A lot of times, it’s through borrowing.
Now there’s good borrowing – taking out 30-year debt to build a new hospital, school or bridge – and bad borrowing: Taking out a long-term loan to fund today’s operating expenses and stick future taxpayers with the tab.
And that’s just one example. There are plenty more. To learn more about them, take a look at my conference presentation below.