Hate Obamacare? Keep Tax Cuts? You Do the Budget
CNBC.com News Editor
That will never work! We’re headed for a cliff!you shout from your living room, spilling a little beer on your armchair amid the hoopla of your enthusiastic critique.
Well, arm-chair politicians, it’s time to put the beer down and see if you can do better than President Obama, Mitt Romney and the other candidates.
The nonpartisan group Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget has come up with a “Stabilize the U.S. Debt” game to give anyone the chance to Step Right Up! – like a game at a carnival — and try their hand at stabilizing the debt.
Don’t like Obamacare? Not a fan of the Buffett tax? Afraid of the politicians we put in charge of “the button” for nuclear warfare? Well now, step aside President Obama . And Mitt Romney . It’s your turn to decide what funding stays and what gets cut.
"It gives citizens a chance to see the kind of choices that will be necessary to fix the budget problems we face," Maya MacGuineas, president of the Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget. "It's really hard to do — getting the debt down to a manageable level!"
Plus, it gives members of Congress the chance to see what cuts voters are willing to make, she added.
And before you go thinking there’s some political agenda here, the game’s creators are former government fiscal policy experts — they worked on Capitol Hill, think tanks, Wall Street and universities — but they’re nonpartisan.
At the moment, the U.S. debt is 67 percent of GDP and is projected to rise to over 77 percent of GDPby 2017, according to the Office of Management and Budget and 91 percent of GDP by 2025, according to the CRFB.
The idea isn’t for you to ELIMINATE the debt — let’s not start crazy-talking — but rather to reduce it to the internationally recognized standard of 60 percent.
So, your mission, should you choose to get off the couch and accept it, is to wrangle $1.6 trillion in cuts from the budget to hit that 60-percent mark by 2021.
Think you’ve got the political chops to get the job done?
Let me walk you through it.
The first step is to establish three key policy positions: whether to reduce or maintain current troop levels in Iraq and Afghanistan, whether to renew recent tax cuts or allow them to expire and whether to cut or increase Medicare physician payments, which would alter the sustainable growth rate.
If you are already daunted by not knowing what the sustainable growth rate is, don’t give up yet — they have information buttons all along the way, for every item and every answer, to help you make informed choices.
Next, you have to make decisions on expanding or cutting the Joint Strike Fighter program (for developing a new stealth aircraft), foreign aid, veteran benefits, the nuclear arsenal, the Navy Fleet, Homeland Security Spending and troop levels.
Next, you have to tackle domestic social and economic spending, including decisions on NASA, the JOBS bill, highway funding, food stamps and school funding.
(Whew! It’s a lot easier being an armchair critic, amiright?!)
Next, Social Security. Do you want to raise the normal retirement age to 68? No one likes the idea of waiting longer but it would collectively save $160 billion. Plus, decisions on gauges for determining benefits, spousal benefits and government worker benefits.
Yeah, you were waiting for this one, right?