Interactive Tool: Try Your Hand at Balancing the Budget

Published May 19, 2014. By Josh Hicks.

Lawmakers are unlikely to resolve their budgeting differences before the November midterm elections, meaning Congress will probably resort to another “continuing resolution” to keep the government running after the end of the current fiscal year on Sept. 30.

The main sticking point in recent years has been how to go about deficit reduction. Democrats have generally called for more revenue, while Republicans have demanded spending cuts.

Is balancing the budget really so hard? Readers can find out for themselves with a new interactive tool from the Concord Coalition that allows users to choose from a menu of recent policy proposals. (Click on the image above to use the tool).

The options range from limiting charitable deductions and trimming funding for the arts to canceling the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter program and ending tax subsidies for the oil and gas industries.

Each proposal includes an explanation of its pros and cons, in addition to showing how the decisions would affect the deficit in years to come. Users can share their results with friends through social media.

The Concord Coalition and Next 10, both of which are nonpartisan groups advocating for balanced budgets, first teamed up to create the online tool in 2009, and they have updated the program each year with the most recent policy proposals.

Overall, the tool highlights some of the difficult choices that have divided Democrats and Republicans in recent years, while also gives users a chance to weigh what programs are most important to them. Give it a shot and feel free to share your results with us.