Saturday, May 22, 2010

What if you controlled the federal budget?

The Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget has an interesting "game" at their web site which allows you to make decisions on how to control our growing deficit. The goal is to reduce the federal deficit to 60% of GDP by 2018, which according to the Committee is sustainable through 2030.

What did I do? Here are my actions:
  • Limit Itemized Deductions for High-Earners
  • Eliminate the Life Insurance Tax Benefits
  • Eliminate Subsidies for Biofuels
  • Cut the Earned Income Tax Credit
  • Replace Employer Health Care Exclusion with a Flat Credit
  • Sell certain government assets
  • Increase Gas Tax by 10 cents
  • Impose surtax on Income over $1 million
  • Raise Social Security Cap to cover 90% of earnings
  • Reduce Corporate Tax Rate from 35 to 30 percent
  • Eliminate certain outdated programs
  • Cut Federal workforce by 5 percent
  • Reduce farm subsidies
  • Cut earmarks in half
  • Reduce health care insurance subsidies by 20 percent
  • Increase cost-sharing for Medicare
  • Raise Medicare premiums to 35% of costs
  • Enact medical malpractice reform
  • Gradually reduce scheduled Social Security benefits (30% by 2080)
  • Use an alternative measure of COLA
  • Increase years to calculate benefits for Social Security
  • Cancel TARP and rescind unused Stimulus Funds
  • Gradually reduce food stamp benefits to 2008 levels
  • Freeze average unemployment benefits to 2009 levels
  • Cut foreign aid by half
  • Reduce troop levels in Iraq and Afghanistan to 30,000 by 2013
  • Reduce lower rate tax cuts by half and let upper-income tax cuts expire
  • Grow regular discretionary spending with inflation
According to the "game," I got the deficit to 58% percent and saved about $4 trillion through 2018.

I learned about this from Ross Douthat at the NY Times. Here are his choices. He also has some pretty reasonable thoughts on the budget here.

You can try it here.


Fam Guy said...

When I first read your post, I thought, 'Oh goody, I get to show where he's so 'wrong', BUT, we are surprisingly in agreement almost all the way. Obviously the devil is in the details on much of it, and I do wonder about your medical malpractice reform (?). Why can't our elected leaders be so pragmatic?

Steve said...

The "game" had no details on tort reform. All I know is about 7 years ago the texas legislature passed a tort reform bill. Seems to have worked ok.

Good question on why our elected leaders can't be so pragmatic. Why? Politics and money most likely. We need to get the big money out of politics.

Fam Guy said...

Getting money out of politics? Sorta like getting nudity out of porn. Ain't gonna happen.