Budget Exercise Helps People Understand U.S. Fiscal Challenges

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Principles and Priorities, an interactive group exercise developed by The Concord Coalition, continues to help people around the country understand the difficult choices that must be made to put the federal budget on a more responsible path.

In recent weeks Concord has presented the exercise across the country and in a variety of settings. Citizens of all ages and backgrounds took part in programs, which included large events like a congressional town hall meeting at a community college, as well as more intimate events in New Hampshire and at our home office in Virginia.

U.S. Rep. Antonio Delgado of New York partnered with Concord to host Principles and Priorities on March 19. The two-hour event took place at Columbia-Greene Community College in Hudson, New York with dozens of constituents participating. (Concord, a nonpartisan organization, works with elected officials in both parties.)

Delgado called on his constituents to take a close look at the spending and revenue options in the exercise and to help craft some recommendations on what a fiscally responsible 10-year budget plan could look like.

HudsonValley360 provided coverage both before and after the program. It was also featured as a top story on WNYT News Channel 13.

On March 5 David Oman, a senior strategic consultant with Concord, facilitated a budget workshop at the University of Northern Iowa in Cedar Falls. Partners in the program were the university’s Political Science Department and the UNI Chapter of the American Democracy Project.

This event received advance coverage by the Waterloo-Cedar Falls Courier and was featured as the lead news story on News7KWWL.

Oman also led a Jan. 31 budget exercise at Iowa State University in Ames that was covered by the Iowa State Daily as one of its top stories.

Last Friday Professor Jayce Farmer worked with Concord to present the budget exercise at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas. This was a return visit for Concord as we were there in 2016. That year Concord held events at the four campuses where presidential or vice presidential debates were held.

Policy Director Joshua Gordon recently worked in our Virginia offices with a visiting group from the Michigan Farm Bureau’s Academy for Political Leadership. Concord has been involved in education programs with the Michigan Bureau for almost a decade.

New Hampshire State Director Tyler Sweeney has been conducting a series of “Debt Busters” exercises with Republican and Democratic Committees around New Hampshire. This condensed version of Principles and Priorities is effective at encouraging constructive dialogue in more limited time periods. Recently the Bedford Republican Committee and a joint meeting of the Moultonborough, Tuftonboro and Sandwich Democratic Committees hosted exercises in New Hampshire. These groups have different ideologies but they struggled in the same areas, such as Social Security.

Our budget exercises work well with a variety of different groups and settings, and most participants — of all ages — find it both informative and highly engaging. The programs can also draw extensive news coverage that helped not just the participants but thousands of readers and viewers to better understand the federal budget.

Individuals and organizations that are interested in setting up an exercise can email me or call me at (404) 354-7445.

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