Nov 14 2010
08:38 am

The New York Times Week in Review has an interactive deficit solving puzzle this week. Can you solve the deficit for 2015 and 2030?

Share your results below

Mark Harmon's picture

You're Welcome

I balanced the budget this morning. To be specific, I eliminated the projected 2015 shortfall of $418 billion, and put it in surplus by $280 billion. 2030 was a bit more difficult. The goal was $1.355 trillion, and I took steps to reduce it by $1.336 trillion. I figure over 20 years a bit more enforcement of corporate tax evasion easily will get the remaining $19 billion.

Here are the two important guiding principles:

1) We've had a 30-year pattern of shifting the total tax burden from the wealthy and corporations to the middle and working classes. Rolling that pattern back to Clinton-era numbers does wonders, so does scaling back on wars started in deceit and on credit cards.

2) We never really collected on the peace dividend of the end of the Cold War. We still have military challenges, but some of the projects (eg. Star Wars) make no sense. This perpetually increasing budget area needs a hard look.

I urge you to work the interactive exercise yourself. It's much more realistic than any powerpoint Senator Befuddled Bob ever could put together. His plans seem to start with making the problem $700 billion worse.

Specifics: eliminate earmarks, farm subsidies, and 250,000 government contractors; reduce all military options noted and take the $169 billion cut in foreign troop levels; return estate tax and capital gains to Clinton-era levels. Allow Bush-era tax cuts for income over $250,000 yearly to expire. Enact the Bank and Carbon Taxes, Millionaire surcharge, and rid the tax code of the loopholes noted in one recent plan (if this proves undesirable, substitute cuts into some of the $60 billion or so of most estimates of corporate welfare). Social Security doing okay, but most of us never see the cutoff in yearly paycheck deductions. Raise the figure. Medicare also doing well. Would do better if we could get public option into current plan.

EricLykins's picture

You cheated

The domestic and Foreign Aid section and the Military section allow for muliple checked boxes. The closing tax loopholes section says "choose one or none." You chose 3.

I really think that was an editing oversight at NYT, so thanks for thinking outside the box.

CE Petro's picture

Did you notice there was

Did you notice there was nothing in those choices to help the 25 million people that are unemployed, underemployed or gave up finding work?

Dean Baker has two short, sweet and to the point, points on this interactive game:

The budget balancers were the same people who dominated economic debate in the years before the crash and could did not see the $8 trillion housing bubble that wrecked the economy and gave us the huge deficits that now have them so obsessed.


It would also be worth pointing out to readers and participants in the NYT game that the long-term deficit is 100 percent a health care story. If the United States paid the same amount per person for health care as any of the 35 countries with longer life expectancies, we would be looking at huge budget surpluses for the indefinite future.

Inserting a bill like HR626 instead of the cuts to healthcare given in the game, would go alot further in reducing the deficit while strengthening our populace (physically, mentally, and in the long run, financially -- think jobs creation).

EricLykins's picture

"Any serious long-term

"Any serious long-term deficit plan will spend about 1% of its time on the discretionary budget, 1% on Social Security, and 98% on healthcare. Any proposal that doesn't maintain approximately that ratio shouldn't be considered serious. The Simpson-Bowles plan, conversely, goes into loving detail about cuts to the discretionary budget and Social Security but turns suddenly vague and cramped when it gets to Medicare. That's not serious."

R. Neal's picture

If I read the results right,

If I read the results right, I got a $129 billion surplus for 2015 and reduced the 2030 deficit from $1.3 trillion to $275 billion. 49% of reductions are from increased taxes and 51% are from decreased spending.

This assumes that these are the only options. I'm guessing there are lots of others not considered in this exercise.

onetahiti's picture

yes, more options would have been nice

The game makes its point though.

Here's my effort: (link...)

-- OneTahiti

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