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Want to cut the federal budget? Try this handy on-line tool! 2010-May-24 at 09:25 PST

Posted by Scott Arbeit in Blog.
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Choose Your Own Fiscal Adventure, by Ross Douthat, 20-May-2010

Good news, America: Using the online budget simulator created by the good people at the Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget, I’ve successfully reduced our debt to a relatively stable 60 percent of G.D.P. by the year 2018. All it took was means-testing Social Security and raising the retirement age to 68, keeping health care reform in place but slashing its insurance subsidies by 20 percent, increasing cost-sharing and premiums for Medicare and raising the retirement age to 67, passing tort reform, returning food stamp spending to 2008 levels, slashing subsidies for agriculture and biofuels, cutting the federal workforce by 5 percent across the board, cutting earmarks by 50 percent, converting the home-mortgage deduction to a smaller credit, replacing the tax deduction for employer-provided health care with a flat credit, increasing the gas tax by 10 cents a gallon, cutting foreign aid and military spending by $200 billion, drawing down troop levels in Iraq and Afghanistan to 60,000 in 2016, taxing life insurance benefits, letting the Bush tax cuts expire for high earners and partially phasing them out for the middle class, eliminating the state and local tax deduction, and cutting out a lot of smaller things as well.

How bad is our spending addiction? This list is what Mr. Douthat plugged in just to get us down to a deficit that’s 60% of GDP – in 2018! – but not even close to a balanced budget.

None of the changes he proposed should be difficult to deal with – and if you disagree with some of them, hey, whatever – but we’re going to have to do much more to get to a balanced budget… and the baby boomers who run Congress simply won’t be able to do even what he suggests, never mind the really hard work to get to debt reduction.  As our friends in Europe are learning… nothing short of balanced budgets and debt reduction will, in the end, be sustainable for governments going forward.

I’ll play with this tool over the coming weeks, and see what it takes to get to a truly balanced budget, and see how an Integral perspective might help to figure that out.

The culture change in Washington, brought on by the Integral wave of development, can’t come soon enough.

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