Patrick Louis Knudsen, a veteran budget expert for Congress who is a visiting fellow at The Heritage Foundation, sees the budget process as indispensable for the practice of governing itself.
The federal budget, Knudsen believes, is a principal instrument for limiting the size and scope of the federal government; enhancing Congress’s role as the policymaking institution of government; maintaining the critical balance of powers among the three branches; and controlling the administrative state. In short, when properly used, the budget is essential to the practice of constitutional government.
Knudsen eagerly took on the opportunity to explore these themes as a visiting fellow in Heritage’s B. Kenneth Simon Center for Principles and Politics in 2013, following nearly two years as the think tank’s Grover M. Hermann senior fellow in federal budgetary affairs.
He cultivated his perspective during 20 years on the staff of the Committee on the Budget in the U.S. House of Representatives. As the committee’s policy director, Knudsen edited, wrote or co-wrote virtually all the panel’s Republican policy products – from committee reports to appropriations and legislative analyses to economic studies. He gained an intimate knowledge of the fiscal and policy elements of key issues such as entitlements, health care, Social Security, economic stimulus and deficits and debt.
Knudsen, who understands the ins and outs of the budget process, had a central role in ensuring the quality and credibility of the House Budget Committee’s work. He saw the budget rise from deficit to surplus, then sink even deeper into deficits, yet remains optimistic about restoring balanced budgets as the norm.
Before his stint on Capitol Hill, Knudsen was a reporter, editor and occasional editorial writer at metropolitan newspapers in his home town of Milwaukee, Wis., and in Rochester, N.Y. He covered government at all levels – town, city, county, state and federal.
During a brief turn at Congressional Quarterly, Knudsen quickly became fascinated with Congress, which soon turned out to be the second stage of his professional career. Joining Heritage in August 2011 marked the start of the third phase.
Knudsen holds a bachelor’s degree in English from the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, and completed course work toward a master’s degree there. He credits poet-playwright T.S. Eliot and novelist Saul Bellow with making key contributions to his conservative philosophy and Carl G. Jung, the pioneering Swiss psychiatrist, with explaining the moral, spiritual and psychological imperative of individualism and personal responsibility.
Knudsen, who currently resides in Alexandria, remains an avid reader of philosophy, history and literature. He also is a movie and music enthusiast.