November 14, 2010

Wow! That Was Easy!

So The New York Times published a do-it-yourself federal budget balancing exercise today. In about five minutes I fixed the country — easy.

The following is my formula that achieves balance for both the 2015 and 2030 models.


  • Cut foreign aid
  • Cut farm subsidies
  • Reduce military to pre-Iraq War size
  • Cancel or delay some weapons systems
  • Reduce number of troops in Iraq and Afghanistan
  • Raise Social Security age to 68
  • Reduce Social Security benefits for people with high incomes


  • Return estate tax to Clinton-era levels
  • Return tax rates to Clinton-era levels
  • Allow Bush tax cuts to expire for income over $250,000
  • Some extra tax above $106,000
  • Enact “millionaire’s” tax
  • Eliminate tax loopholes and keep rates up
  • Carbon tax
  • Bank tax

Done! One balanced federal budget without touching Medicare.

I ought to run for public office 😉

But, really, I find this exercise a rather interesting thing for a newspaper to publish. What happens after we try this ourselves? What are citizens really willing to do once they actually have to make a choice? What compromises might we be willing to make? How much common ground is there?

Granted, this exercise is simplistic. But I’m thinking there’s great potential in interactivity of this sort as a way to inform and foment debate.

5 Responses

  1. Tim 

    Ok, here are my choices. Let the debate foment!

  2. Sven 

    this exercise is simplistic

    Indeed. But what’s really striking is how it puts the piddling policies politicians like to talk about into stark contrast with what would actually fix the problem.

  3. acline 

    Sven… Yes.

    Tim… OK, let’s accept those we agree on and see what compromises we can reach on the others. Methinks we could balance it.

    This points up something interesting: The NYT ought to expand this so that we could do exactly that on their site — compare our choices and negotiate. That would be cool.

  4. […] entry is cross-posted with my blog Rhetorica. Check out the comments. You’ll see that one of my readers has also balanced the budget […]

  5. Tim 

    Andy, I agree. It would be great if we could use the “interactive” NYT page to negotiate with other entires. It might also be interesting to see what how many others selected the different options.

    And I agree that if it were left to you and I, we could reach a compromise.

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