NYT: You Fix the Budget

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.

Good luck.

* 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.

9 thoughts on “NYT: You Fix the Budget”

  1. If only that were true. I’m afraid that the figure you cite, and the goal of the NYT simulation program, is to reduce the annual deficit to an amount equal to 3 percent of GDP (as of the target year). The 3 percent figure is the amount, according to the NYT, which economists believe “is sustainable”. That’s a far cry (and several hundred billion dollars) from “balancing the budget”.

  2. Here’s a couple of easy budget fixes, abolish the DEA.
    Abolish the ONDCP, abolish the TSA and abolish the CIA.

    I can’t seem to find constitutional justification for any of these agencies or departments.

  3. How To Reduce The Deficit :

    (1) End tax loopholes and tax breaks for the wealthy
    (2) End subsidies
    (3) End foreign give-aways
    (4) End senseless deadly costly stupid wars
    (5) Stop supporting illegal immigrants
    (6) End pork spending
    (7) Cut military spending
    (8) End fraud and corruption associated with Medicare and Medicaid
    (9) End government no-bid contracts
    (10) Stop borrowing money ( the interest alone is more than many present programs cost )

  4. More Waste To Trimm :

    (1) Wasteful military and defense spending ( including corrupt government no-bid contrators ) ( use the two wars as an example ) ( Haliburton and Brown and Root )
    (2) Wasteful spending such as looking for water on Mars, and the stupid “Fence”
    (3) Subsidies to wealthy farmers and big oil companies
    (4) Benefits and perks for Congress persons ( fat retirement and expenses )
    (5) Bribes to foreign countries
    (6) Bailouts ( i.e. AIG )
    (7) Non-military portions of NASA
    (8) Unnecessary government travel

  5. The NYT tool is interesting, but it doesn’t consider or allow for the potential positive effects of actually lowering certain taxes. Growing the economy by taking the handcuffs off of business will have more positive effects, and increase the overall tax base, than raising taxes. Raising taxes never really yields what the tax-raisers expect, because taxpayer behavior changes to avoid actually paying the taxes.

  6. Great exercise! Many thanks.
    You’ll want to correct the typo in the article at the end of the 3rd paragraph:
    “Choose both options and you still have $1.324 billion to go.”

    It should read $1.324 trillion to go.

  7. 1. Freeze government hiring until all departments have been reduced 10% by attrition.

    2. Remove any non essential military installation from countries not supportive of free market capitalism and demonstrable human rights to freedom of movement, speech and religion.

    3. Eliminate all income based taxes and replace them with an equally revenue producing consumption base tax.

    4. Return to the states the responsibilities originally placed by the founding fathers and quit absorbing and redistributing state taxes.

    5. Reduce the department of ecucation to the one responsibility of setting standards of competence required to move upward from grade to grade and allow all other educational programs and standards to be determined by each state.

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