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Are you a ***BUDGET HERO***?

May 20, 2008 • Karen

American Public Media just created Budget Hero, a game where you tweak the federal government budget (based on real GAO numbers) in an effort to achieve your goals while avoiding bankruptcy. I don't expect this to be a fast-paced console game anytime soon. But as a nice Flash-based way of looking at what the heck the government does (and could/should) spend its money on, it's pretty sweet. If you're a government student or a political economy hack of some sort, check it out.

At the end, you can compare your budget with those of players of various genders, income levels, and party affiliations. I was amused to see that the self-identified Republicans had the *least* solvent budget of any party group: their average budget would bust in 2048, with government spending at 19.2% of GDP and government debt at 27.0% of GDP. (It's a great illustration of something I constantly tell fiscal conservatives: if you really care about making government smaller, quit whining about school lunch programs and end the war!) Libertarians did a bit better, busting in 2058, with spending at 18.6% and debt at 20.2%.

But despite desperately trying to spend money on education, infrastructure, and random environmental things, I achieved my health & wellness, anti-government waste, and energy independence goals with a government more solvent (2070+), smaller (18.6% of GDP), and less indebted (8.2% of GDP) than even the goddamn Libertarians.

Sweeeeet.

I'd say this ought to qualify me to be president, except for three of the major components to my success: ending pork barrel projects outright (is that even possible?), cutting some senior benefits (the baby boomers will have my head), and raising taxes for corporations, polluters, and the wealthy in order to actually balance the budget (you'd think that would be sensible enough to be popular... :/ ). So never mind.