The New York Times's Own Budget Simulator

The New York Times released their own "budget puzzle" over the weekend, allowing users to try to eliminate the primary deficit (the deficit excluding interest) by 2015 and 2030, thereby accomplishing the same goal the fiscal commission is charged with. Similar to our own simulator, it includes options all across the budget to help close the gap. In fact, some options are exact matches to ones in our simulator, which makes sense; after all, we did lend a hand to NYT for this project. The Times's new budget puzzle bring the number of budget games, including our very own Stabilize the Debt simulator and Budget Hero, to three.

The Times starts with a current policy baseline, assuming all the tax cuts are extended among other things. Then, they map out the primary shortfalls in 2015 and 2030 in 2010 dollars, which are $415 billion and $1.4 trillion respectively. Yes, just to get the deficit to three percent of GDP in 2030 would require $1.4 trillion of deficit reduction in 2010 dollars.

They gave readers a wide variety of spending and tax options just as we did, ranging from farm subsidies to civilian workforce cuts to eliminating the exclusion for employer-sponsored health insurance to reducing the number of troops in Iraq and Afghanistan. It also includes tax options like taxing millionaires at a 45 percent rate, replacing the mortgage interest deduction with a credit, raising the cap on Social Security payroll taxes, and instituting a VAT.

Try it out for yourself! And if you find yourself more satisfied with a goal of reducing the debt to 60 percent of GDP by 2018, try our simulator.