How About YOU Balance the Nation's Federal Budget?

Published Sep 4, 2013. By Billy Wagness.

Duluth, MN ( - Think you can balance the federal budget?

That was the name of the game for those that attended a real time federal budget exercise at UMD Wednesday.

The goal, say organizers, is to get people to understand the priorities, and sacrifices, in a balanced budget.

When it comes to tackling our nation's federal budget, and the balancing of billions of dollars of deficits, it's easy to lose yourself in the seemingly endless places our taxpayer dollars go on a daily basis.

"They're looking at general Government spending on roads and transportation, the education system, et cetera," said Dr. Sara Imhof, Midwest Regional Director of the Concord Coalition which advocates for generational responsible fiscal policy. "They're looking at the defense budget and homeland security, Medicare, Medicaid, social security, and, of course, taxes and revenues."

According to Dr. Imhof, a central goal of the budget balancing game is to understand how budget cuts, and expenditures, affect not just today's citizens, but tomorrow's generation.

"It's tough to talk about how much we want to spend, how much we want to tax ourselves, and look across all sectors of society; look outside the 8th District, or the state of Minnesota, to what's important in other states around the globe," said Dr. Imhof.

...which is why each small group of a half a dozen or so Northlanders that partook in the exercise was so diverse—ranging from students to baby boomers; from Liberals to Conservatives; from city council members to Minnesota Congressman Rick Nolan.

And if it wasn't hard enough to balance the nation's budget, participants have about an hour and a half to do it, which Congressman Nolan says is pretty real time.

"I know it's only one or two hours, but I've got to tell you that's exactly what we have to do from time to time, and I don't mind telling you that that's wrong," said Rep. Nolan, addressing the crowd during the exercise.

"Young people and our baby boomer crowd are definitely going to have different ideas about what should and shouldn't be cut as we go through this process," said Steve Wick, of the MN Public Interest Research Group, as he and his group worked the numbers.

"I think the hardest [issue] was healthcare. I think the easiest was taxing—revenue generating policies," said Becky Hall, of the Northern Liberty Alliance, when the exercise came to an end.

...all part of the daily compromises that make up our nation's trillion–dollar deficit.

Congressman Nolan is also hosting another budget exercise with the Concord Coalition tonight, in Brainerd.

- Posted to the Web by Billy Wagness