I thought it would be interesting to try to balance the federal budget - I wanted to see what it would take.
It’s absolutely crazy! I’ve posted some thoughts and attempts below, and I thought it would be interesting to both get feedback on my thoughts about the budget, and see what other people would do with it. So please let me know what you think.
I’m starting with using Wikipedia’s information on the 2007 US Federal Budget, so if you want to join in, please use the same numbers from here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/United_States_federal_budget,_2007 to make your work comparable.
If you do want to participate, don’t make it too easy on yourself - even if you were President, you would not be able to reduce the amount of interest on the debt immediately, and you wouldn’t be able to significantly change how much it costs to operate the mechanisms of government - so the “Interest on debt” and “General government” items are just constraints you’ll have to live with.
Here’s what wikipedia tells us (all figures are in billions of dollars.)
Social Security: $586.1
Unemployment & Welfare: $294.0
Medicaid & other health care: $276.4
Interest on debt: $243.7
Veterans’ Benefits: $72.6
Justice Administration: $43.5
Natural Resources/Environment: $33.1
Foreign Affairs: $32.5
Community/Regional Development: $26.8
General Government: $20.1
Total Spending: $2,814.4
Here’s what I came up with when I tried to balance it (increases in green, cuts in red):
- Social Security: $586.1
- Defense: $260.0
- Medicare & new insurance program: $604.5
- Unemployment & Welfare: $200.0
- Medicaid & other health care: $276.4
- Interest on debt: $243.7
- Education: $30.0
- Transportation: $30.0
- Veterans’ Benefits: $74.6
- Justice Administration: $63.5
- Natural Resources/Environment: $25.0
- Foreign Affairs: $20.0
- Agriculture: $1.5
- Community/Regional Development: $1.5
- Science/Technology: $28.0
- Energy: $38.5
- General Government: $20.1
Total Spending: $2,503.4
2. This could only occur if the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan are over - but I think it still does provide for a powerful defense, spending more than twice our closest competitors according to wikipedia (please correct me if better cites are available.)
3. I really believe universal coverage of some form of health care is needed - this expenditure reflects an additional $5,000 to help pay for health care for 42 million uninsured Americans - not enough to completely pay for health care, but at least it’s something.
4, 7, 8, 11, 12: These are all areas I believe government may have a role in, but may just have to be cut to help with the health care and other issues. A Devil’s bargain in many cases.
9. Veterans really get the shaft in general. The least I could do was make sure a little more is devoted to their care.
10. I think law enforcement would have to take the lead in antiterrorism once the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan are over, hence the increase.
13, 14. This may be something of a cop-out, because I don’t understand a lot about what the federal government does in these areas. But I think the government may have to completely abandon certain functions to live within its means.
15, 16. $18 billion a year to help restructure our energy policy, especially to combat global warming, should help get the ball rolling and maybe make up for losing $8 billion a year on environment and natural resources.
I don’t think my proposal is politically realistic. I tried another proposal which softened the cuts to no more than 20% of a budget category, but still wound up with a $106 billion deficit. What do you think?
Mods - sorry if this is more of a IMHO or even Game Room thread. Feel free to move it as needed.