I don’t know if you’ve heard, but America’s got a little problem on our hands. We have a budget that needs balancing and apparently no one in Washington can agree on how that should be done. So what do we do? Yelling at Brian Williams from my couch sure hasn’t helped.
American Public Media (the folks that bring you Marketplace) have decided to throw the country a bone and crowd-source the problem to us nerds! They’ve created Budget Hero; a game that allows you to balance the nation’s budget and see how your decisions will affect your kids in twenty years. The game was created using data from the non-partisan Congressional Budget Office (CBO), which helps Congress predict the impact their decisions will have on the future. Oh, and it’s actually pretty fun.
You start out by choosing from a variety of “badges” that you will be playing for. I selected Efficient Government, Competitive Advantage, and Energy Independence, of which I only earned the Efficient Government badge. Then you get to cut the fat and invest in the future by playing cards under each section of the budget. For example, I played the Infrastructure card that cut federal subsidies for Amtrak and also the Defense & Diplomacy cards to cancel stealth fighters and end spending on missile defense while increasing funding for university defense research. After I submitted my plan, which I thought to be pretty frugal, the debt was cut a mere $6.4 trillion from $16.5 trillion after ten years and prolonged the budget bust from 2031 to 2038. I was able to budget for an efficient government, but apparently it was unrealistic because I didn’t earn my country any competitive advantage or get any closer to energy independence.
Now it’s your turn to save the country and contribute to the crowd-sourcing. Play the game here and report back! If all this financial insecurity talk is freaking you out, take a look at Budgets Are Sexy to help keep your savings and spending on track.