5 March 2003

National Budget Simulation

I cut the deficit by nearly 366 billion dollars. Let's see if any of you neo-conservative Republicans can do better...

This simple simulation should give you a better feel of the trade-offs which policy makers need to make in creating federal budgets and dealing with deficits.

This simulation asks you to adjust spending and tax expenditures in the the 2004 budget proposed by the White House in order to achieve either a balanced budget or any other target deficit. In order to make the choices we face in the budget clearer, we assume that you make the adjustments all in one year. According to the White House, the 2004 fiscal deficit is projected to be $307 billion. This does not include the costs of the Iraq War, so it has been increased by a base estimate of $50 billion for those costs in this simulation (which can be increased, lowered or eliminated depending on peoples views of the costs or likelihood of the war.).

The Simulation also allows you to adjust the costs of the 2001 and proposed 2003 tax cuts, either cutting or cancelling them to raise revenue, or increasing them to create larger tax cuts. It also allows you to increase or decrease tax expenditures, also known as tax deductions, credits or "loopholes."


There are two ways to play the game: a simple version that challenges you to cut major categories of spending or eliminate tax loopholes and a longer version with sub-categories of spending.

We suggest that you do the simulations first without knowing their budgets. You may be surprised that cutting certain programs yield little revenue. This makes the simulation a bit more challenging since it tests whether your perception of where money goes in the budget matches the reality.


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