National Budget Simulation

This simple simulation should give you a better feel of the trade-offs which policy makers need to make in creating federal budgets and dealing with deficits.

This simulation asks you to adjust spending and tax expenditures in the the 2006 budget proposed by the White House in order to achieve either a balanced budget or any other target deficit. In order to make the choices we face in the budget clearer, we assume that you make the adjustments all in one year.

According to the Congressional Budget Office, the 2006 fiscal deficit is projected to be $296 billion. This does not include the costs of the Iraq War, so in the simulation the deficit has been increased by $105 billion, the costs of the supplemental appropriations for Iraq and Afghanistan operation for fiscal 2005, for a total projected deficit of $401 billion. These costs and the associated deficits can be adjusted in the similuation based on your estimates of the likely continuing costs of the war or whether to scale back or end those operations.

The Simulation also allows you to adjust the costs of the 2001 and 2003 tax cuts, either cutting or cancelling them to raise revenue, or increasing them to create larger tax cuts. It also allows you to increase or decrease tax expenditures, also known as tax deductions, credits or "loopholes."

  • How to play the game.
  • Why this simulation uses a one-year budget rather than projections over a number of years.
  • What categories of spending are used in this simulation?
  • How the 2001 and 2003 tax cuts are used in this simulation.
  • Why tax expenditures are treated like general spending in this simulation.

    Playing the Game


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    This simulation is still under construction. If you have suggestions for improving it, please send us some feedback.