A Bit Of Political Fun: Budget Hero

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I doubt many people other than political junkies will find this interesting, but American Public Media’s show Marketplace (if you listen to NPR, you’ll know it) has just launched Budget Hero, a game where you can set the budget priorities and see how it stacks up against reality. What’s nice about this is it lists the pros and cons of each action, and the reasoning seems to me to be extremely balanced.

And yes, I played and I’m actually surprised to find that I can be a small government guy while providing health care for all. Who knew?

What kind of budget hero will you be?

There’s one way to find out.

  • Tully

    Hee hee! Our local government does something like that with citizen education. It’s always funny to watch people going nuts trying to figure out how to pay for everything they want without raising taxes.

  • stopdrugwar

    Just what I expected, all biases are towards big government. Ignores Laffer curve and assumes if government doesn’t do it, it doesn’t get done.

    And where are the savings from ending the drugwar, taxing and tolerating vice?

  • rob

    Badges received:
    Health & Wellness, National Security, Economic Stimulus, Green, Safety Net, Efficient Government, Competitive Advantage, Energy Independence.

    Debt shrinks from 37.7% in 2008 to 22.2% in 2018 and 8.5% in 2028. Surplus in 2028 of $ 129B and interest on debt of $ 129B

    Size of Government:
    Size of government shrank from 20% in 2008 to 19.1% in 2018 and returned to 20.5% in 2028.

    Over-arching Goals:
    1. Focus spending within the United States.
    2. Focus cuts on long-term benefits and cost containment.
    3. Avoid cuts that would dramatically affect US jobs.
    4. Leverage existing programs if prudent.
    5. Steer society away from sole reliance on dirty fuels.
    6. Keep debt under 10% GDP and get all badges without becoming a nanny-state.

    Military Goal: Continue to build and improve our military and intelligence. Being the strongest nation in the world is no reason to stop improving. Options selected: Remove troops GRADUALLY, Improve Homeland Security, add 2 new troop divisions, increase DARPA funding.

    Schools & Kids Goal: Fight poverty/crime/drug abuse and continue to advance our role in high value added activities through education. Options selected: Educate disadvantaged children, increase funding for College, increase funding for after-school programs, cut school lunch program, increase funding for arts.

    Science & Nature Goal: Cut waste. Options Selected: Reform farm subsidies, Expand endangered species program.

    Housing & Living Goal: Create a firm floor under the poor to facilitate the educational goals. Options Selected: Increase rent assistance funding, Increase food stamp funding, Increase child care funding, Refinance current subprime borrowers.

    Miscellaneous Goal: Cut waste. Options selected: Eliminate “pork barrel”, Improve border security, Tighten product oversight.

    Infra-Structure Goal: Improve existing methods of transportation. Options Selected: Fund Bus Rapid Transit, Increase funding for Amtrak.

    Healthcare Goal: Nationwide coverage, focus on long term cost reductions. Options Selected: Computerize health information, Offer government healthcare plan to all, Simplify and raise medicare fees, Raise medicare eligibility to 67, Increase medicare costs for wealthy individuals.

    Social Security Goal: Transition future generations away from reliance on the program so that eventually it can be dismantled. Options selected: Cut benefits by 5% across the board, Raise the eligibility to 67 and index it, Slow social security benefit rise.

    Taxes Goal: Stimulate economic growth, raise the poverty floor, strengthen the middle-class, eliminate unnecessary benefits for the well-off. Options selected: Restrict Bush tax cuts to needy, Index AMT to inflation, Cap & Trade, Give workers a tax credit, Add $0.50 to gas tax, Increase SS taxes for wealthy, Make research tax credit permanent, End income taxes for seniors making over $50k, raise Tobacco taxes, Make multinationals pay taxes on income as it’s earned, Tax private equity/hedge fund managers, Tax toxic industries for Super Fund cleanups, End breaks for big oil.

    Final Notes:
    $0.50 Gas tax was necessary to reach energy independence badge, but is compensated for those with little discretionary income with a lower tax liability and a stronger floor under the poor.

    Tax the rich more for social security was used over increasing the payroll tax, because it has a built in mechanism for reducing itself as social security funding requirements drop and the program is eventually disabled.

  • rob

    Science & Nature: Double funds for Wildlife Refuge.

    also note somethings can be excluded and push the debt to gdp ratio lower and still hit all the badges, but I didn’t like the tax consequences nor the reduced services.

  • Jim S

    Which version of the Laffer curve do you believe in, stopdrugwar?