Are You Up to the Budget Challenge?

Blog Post
Wednesday, October 11, 2017

Last month the U.S. national debt surpassed $20 trillion for the first time in history. It is clear that our nation’s fiscal path is unsustainable.

Unfortunately, in Washington our elected officials are kicking the can down the road and avoiding the tradeoffs required to reduce projected deficits that will add to the debt. Our online budget exercise, The Federal Budget Challenge, will give you the chance to step up and try your hand at putting the nation on a better fiscal path.

The Challenge is based on The Concord Coalition’s popular “Principles and Priorities” group exercise. It has been newly updated to reflect current policy choices facing Congress and the president.

The Federal Budget Challenge also puts those choices in the current budget framework, enabling players to see how their choices would impact the projected 10-year federal deficit and interest to be paid on the debt.

With the debate over tax reform currently in full swing, participants can review some of the options policymakers are floating, including estate tax repeal and limits on the state and local tax deduction. The exercise enables participants to understand the budgetary impacts of such proposals as well as some common arguments both for and against the them.

The recent health care debate over the Affordable Care Act, block grants for Medicaid, and health care cost-control decisions are well represented in the exercise as well.

With Congress facing the possibility of a budget standoff and government shutdown in the months ahead, defense and domestic spending programs will be on the hot seat. Participating in our updated online simulation will allow individuals to choose for themselves: Which federal programs should receive increased funding and which should be cut?

The Federal Budget Challenge was developed in partnership with the California-based non-profit Next 10, which runs and licenses the platform. The Budget Challenge has been in use since 2009 with over 400,000 participants. The options and scores in the exercise are primarily based on Congressional Budget Office publications.

The Challenge is just one of Concord’s budget exercises. “Principles and Priorities” has been used in hundreds of classrooms and public programs across the country, including numerous town halls hosted by members of Congress from both parties. “Debt Busters” is very popular for shorter time periods.

Our exercises use our field and grassroots expertise and give everyday Americans the opportunity to better understand the difficult choices that need to be made for meaningful fiscal change. From there, participants will be armed with the resources to press their elected officials in Washington to support responsible fiscal policies that hold down the debt, foster economic growth, and strengthen our nation.