Over at the New York Times, David Leonhardt, Bill Marsh, Shan Carter, Matthew Ericson, and Kevin Quealy have prepared a great online tool for analyzing federal budget options.
Your charge, if you choose to accept it, is to assemble a combination of spending cuts and tax increases that will adequately reduce the budget deficit
balance the budget in 2030. To do so, you will need to find $1.355 trillion in budget adjustments.
I particularly like their decision to list cutting foreign aid in half ($17 billion) and eliminating earmarks ($14 billion) as the first two items. These are popular options in many circles, but they are small potatoes when it comes to the overall budget. Choose both options and you still have $1.324
btrillion to go.
* As Vivian Darkbloom notes in the first comment, I originally misread the goal for this exercise. The graphic refers to closing the budget gap, which I mistook as budget balance. David Leonhardt’s accompanying blog post makes clear that the goal is essentially getting down to a sustainable deficit level, which is an easier target.