An American organization, the Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget, has just released a new budget simulator that lets you take the role of the United States Department of the Treasury and try to get the United States public debt below 60% of GDP by 2018 (hat tip: Andrew Sullivan).
I gave it a go and had to make hard choices, but managed to meet the goal, even though it wasn’t easy. I met the goal with a mixture of spending cuts and tax increases. Amongst other things, slashed defense spending and other miscellaneous programs (such as agricultural subsidies and space program). However, I was forced to raise taxes, allowing the Bush tax cuts (except the AMT patch) to expire, enact a carbon tax and VAT (with rebate), and gradually increased retirement ages. At the end, I even had some “budget room” left over.
As a bonus, how many people will manage do the Republican thing? That is, not increase taxes, and increase defense spending, while at the same time meeting the goal?
Also, this budget simulator is missing a few things that would result in further debt reductions. Ending the War on (Some Classes of People who Use Some) Drugs by decriminalizing all illegal drugs and treating addicts as having medical problems would save much law enforcement resources; all, not just half of, agricultural subsidies should be eliminated; and others.