This simulation needs to be done in totality as it is an integrated experience that covers discretionary spending and general revenues.  Users are given continuous feedback about the impacts of their choices on the deficit and thus are required to consider spending and revenues in a unified framework.

Introduction

Users are introduced to the Federal budget overall, are provided some background on the Federal budget deficit and debt, and evaluate arguments about what the priorities should be in regard to the Federal budget.

Discretionary Spending
Users are presented the discretionary budget (the part of the budget that Congress sets every years) broken into 34 line items (e.g. transportation, education, defense etc.), and have an opportunity to raise and lower each one as they see fit. As they go along, they receive immediate feedback about the impact of their changes on the budget deficit.

Discretionary Spending Results
  • Whether to increase, decrease or maintain spending on 34 discretionary spending items
National and By Party

General Revenues
Next, users assess arguments about what priorities should be for Federal taxes. They are then presented the current tax rates for existing taxes and given the opportunity to modify them up or down.  These include income taxes (setting the levels for each income bracket) corporate taxes, capital gains and more. Users are also presented newly proposed taxes such as a tax on financial transactions or on carbon dioxide. Once again, as they go through the simulation, they are able to immediately see the effect of their choices on the deficit.

Modifying Existing Taxes Results
  • Whether to increase, decrease, or maintain the effective individual income tax rates for specific income brackets
National and By Party
  • Whether to increase, decrease, or maintain tax on corporate income
National and By Party
  • Whether to increase the tax on capital gains and dividends by treating them as ordinary income
National and By Party
  • Whether to revert estate tax levels to 2011 law: tax-free amount decreases from current $11 million to $5.5 million for individuals (double for couples)
National and By Party
  • Whether to increase taxes on alcoholic drinks to: (options) ($0.25 per ounce of alcohol or $0.50 per ounce of alcohol)
National and By Party
  • Whether to increase taxes on a variety of tobacco products
National and By Party
Adopting New Taxes Results
  • Whether to impose an extra tax of 4% on income over $5 million
National and By Party
  • Whether to adopt a surtax on corporate income over $100 million, and if so, how much
National and By Party
  • Whether to adopt a fee of 0.15% on the uninsured debt of financial institutions with assets over $50 billion (roughly the 100 largest firms)
National and By Party
  • Whether to adopt a fee of 0.1% on financial transactions, such as the trading of stocks, bonds and derivatives
National and By Party
  • Whether to adopt a tax on energy companies/utilities (options) ($6.25 per metric ton of emissions from the burning of coal, oil or natural gas
National and By Party
  • Whether to adopt a tax on sugary drinks (options) (1/2 cent per ounce: $0.06 per 12 ounce can)
National and By Party

Final Budget
In the end the respondent is able to review all their changes, including the impact of their decisions on the deficit, and finalize their recommended budget. Click here to see the overall changes made by a national sample.

Final Federal Budget Results
  • Net change for discretionary spending and general revenues
National and By Party