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.